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It was in December — a December that is far away now 
down the stream of time — that a large party of guests were 
assembled under the hospitable roof of Oaklands Manor, 
then in possession of the late Sir Benjamin Brankstone, who 
was known far and wide as one of the foremost philan- 
thropists of his day. Sir Benjamin was practically a self- 
made man, for, although a member of a good country 
family, he started life with little more than the proverbial 
shilling, but by industry, tact, and talent, he amassed a 
very large fortune. 

Oaklands Manor came into his possession by purchase. 
It was a splendid old country mansion, which, although 
built in the stirring times of Queen Elizabeth's reign, had 
escaped the sacrilegious hands that so ruthlessly destroyed 
under Oliver Cromwell's regime, and having passed un- 
scathed through the changing fortunes of generations, it 
became the home of Sir Benjamin Brankstone, mellowed 
and hallowed by time. Picturesque in the extreme, with 
its muUioned windows, massive chimney stacks, grey walls. 


") » 


and great masses of clinging ivy, it presented a very conspicuous 
landmark, and was one of the most prominent features in 
a landscape which, for diversity and beauty of detail, would 
have been hard to beat. It stood in extensive and well- 
wooded grounds of many acres. These grounds were 
celebrated for their magnificent trees, mostly oaks and 
birches, and also for a curious serpentine lake, nearly two miles 
in length, and having in its centre a small island on which 
stood a model, then in ruins, of an Indian temple. Some 
former proprietor had put up this building to gratify a 
passing whim, no doubt. Those who came after him did 
not take the same interest in it, and it was allowed to 
crumble to ruins ; but the kindly ivy had mantled it, while 
ferns grew in profusion, not only around its base, but 
on its crumbling walls, and helped to fill in the details of a 
picture which aroused the enthusiasm of every artist who 
saw it. Many were the pilgrimages made by privileged 
visitors to this charming spot, where peace and repose 
seemed to have their home, far from the heat and fret of 
the passionate world. 

It is necessary to state that Sir Benjamin Brankstone 
had been married three times. The Lady Brankstone of 
the period we are now dealing with had only been his wife 
for three months, and they had but recently returned from 
an extensive tour through Italy and Spain. Her age was 
not more than five-and-twenty, while he was verging on 
seventy, but, nevertheless, was a hale, vigorous, hearty man, 
who looked younger than his years. 

Lady Brankstone was the daughter of a country doctor 
who practised in a neighbouring town, and whose income 
was out of all proportion to the number of his family. Five 
daughters and two sons had taxed his resources severely, 
and made life a terrible struggle. Beatrice, his eldest 
daughter, who had become Lady Brankstone, was con- 
spicuous for her good looks and superb figure, and it was 
said of her that she had turned the heads of half the young 
men in the county. Certain people spoke of her as * flighty,* 
and some even went so hr as to say she was ^deceitful.* 


That she had aroused the jealousy of women and thje envy 
of men was pretty certain, for, enjoying rude health, and 
overflowing with animal spirits, she had given herself up to 
enjoyment in the worldly sense, and seldom missed an 
opportunity of being present at a ball, party, picnic, and 
the like. 

When * old Sir Benjamin ' first began to take notice 
of this country maiden, rough-tongued folks said some 
nasty things, but when she had actually become Lady Brank- 
stone there was at once a struggle, so to speak, to get into 
her good graces, for Sir Benjamin's great wealth and in- 
fluence made him a power in the land, and as soon as the 
newly-married couple returned from their tour, visitors 
filled the house, and people who had formerly found it 
difficult to speak civilly to Beatrice, the pretty daughter of 
the country doctor, were now ready to bow the knee to 
* Lady ' Brankstone. 

The invitees who had assembled at Oaklands Manor 
to do honour to May and December were not only 
numerous but very representative, and, as it wanted but a 
few days to Christmas, many, if not all, had been asked to 
stay and join in the Christmas festivities, which had ever 
been a feature at the Manor. Indeed, it was said that at 
Christmas-time Sir Benjamin kept open house, and no 
one who liked to present himself was sent away empty. 

A dance had been arranged, and the ^ ball-room ' of the 
Manor had been most tastefully decorated for the occasion. 
It was generally admitted the belle of the evening was un- 
questionably the young bride, whose husband was overjoyed 
as he noted that she was * the cynosure of all eyes,' to use 
a phrase dear to the heart of the lady novelist. Lady 
Brankstone was particularly bright, and radiant with health 
and happiness. Although fully conscious of her beauty 
and attractiveness, she was reserved and dignified in her 
bearing, and filled her new position in life with ease and 
grace, which won the goodwill even of those who at one 
time tossed their heads when her name was mentioned. 
About midnight she was suddenly missed. Supper had 



been announced, and when the hostess was looked for 
she could not be found. A servant was sent to her 
rooms, but came back with the information that she was 
not there. While her absence caused no alarm, it 
certainly did cause surprise, but surprise gave place 
to alarm after a time, when search and inquiry alike &iled 
to elicit any information as to the lady's whereabouts. The 
alarm increased when an hour elapsed and there were still 
no tidings, and it became only too evident that her ladyship 
was not in the house. Here at once was a mystery that 
gave rise to all sorts of speculation, and caused a shadow to 
&11 upon the erstwhile merry party, while, as for Sir 
Benjamin, he was almost beside himself with grief. Assem- 
bling the servants, who were numerous, he instructed them 
to go forth and scour the grounds, and in this search nearly 
all the gentlemen of the party joined. 

It was a bleak, bitter, dreary night, flioroughly typical 
of an English December. A heavy fog hung like a pall 
over the land. The ground was sodden with moisture ; the 
wet mist dripped from the trees. It was a night that made 
one shiver and shudder ; a ghostly, gloomy, despair-begetting 
sort of night ; and when a distant church clock tolled out 
the hour of two, the sound seemed to roll over the land with 
a distinctiveness and an accentuated solemnity that were 
startling, for the air was so still : everything was so eerie, 
so weird. 

Slowly that awful night of suspense and anxiety passed 
away. Nobody slept. All sorts of wild theories were 
broached and abandoned. The people were at their wits' 
ends to suggest what would seem even tolerably feasible* 
The dawn of the dismal winter day made it only too evident 
that Lady Brankstone had disappeared. Speculation was 
rife, and many theories were advanced, but as neither specu- 
lation nor theory explained the mystery. Sir Benjamin 
yielded to the advice of an old friend, and summoned 
Vincent Trill to his aid, for the search of the entire house- 
hold had produced no result. 

When Trill arrived upon the scene he made himself 



acquainted with such facts as were necessary for his purpose ; 
he elicited that the lady had taken nothing with her, and 
had not even changed her evening dress. Sir Benjamin 
declared that the relations between himself and his young 
wife were of the most amiable and loving character, and 
during their short married career there had not been a single 
discord to interrupt the harmony. 

Trill's investigation corroborated what had already been 
pretty conclusively proved — the lady had entirely disappeared 
from the house, for every nook and cranny, every hole and 
corner capable of concealing a human body was exhaustively 
searched, without revealing a sign that was calculated to be 
of service. Trill brought to light one little fact, however, 
which had up to then escaped the notice of the searchers. A 
somewhat costly woollen shawl had disappeared from Lady 
Brankstone's room. Her maid remembered having seen it 
last lying at the foot of the bed, where her ladyship had 
carelessly thrown it after having worn it round her shoulders 
during a visit to the stables, previous to dressing for dinner. 
As the shawl could not be found, the inference it suggested 
was that the lady had taken it with her. Following this 
Trill now made another discovery : the dainty slippers her 
ladyship had been wearing had been kicked under the bed 
and a pair of thick winter boots could not be found. There 
was now no longer the slightest room to doubt that her lady- 
ship had deliberately left her residence, and the problem to be 
solved was. Why had she gone, and where had she gone to ? 

When many days had passed this question was still 
unanswered. The guests had dispersed, and poor old Sir 
Benjamin was prostrated with grief. Needless to say, the 
case caused the greatest excitement throughout the country, 
and the publicity given to it set everyone on the alert. 
Nevertheless, no reliable information was forthcoming, and 
when a week had elapsed the mystery was as great a mystery 
as ever. 

It must not be supposed that during this time Vincent 
Trill was inactive. He worked according to his own 
methods) and drew his own conclusions. The prevailing 


opinion throughout the district was that the ladv had grown 
tired of her aged husband, and had gone off with some 
former lover. This opinion was unreasonably based on 
rumours, all more or less vague and ill-founded, that Lady 
Brankstone, before her marriage, had been very wild. From 
searching inquiry Trill ascertained that she had been no 
worse than many other young women situated as she was 
situated ; and though people were ready enough to make 
cowardly hints and dark insinuations they could not justify 
them when called upon to do so. His own opinion was 
that the lady was no longer in the land of the living ; that 
she had met with foul play, and her body would be found 
within the boundary of the Oakland Manor grounds. His 
reason for this was that she could have had no intention, 
when she left her husband's home, of going far, or she would 
not have gone out on such a raw and bitter night so lightly 
clad. Then again, there was every reason for thinking that her 
going away was quite unpremeditated, otherwise she would 
not have left everything behind her. For instance, there 
was much valuable jewellery that she could quite easily have 
carried, and in the drawer of her escritoire in her dressing- 
room was a considerable sum of money which she would 
surely have possessed herself of had she contemplated flight. 
Having come to the conclusion in his own min^ that 
Lady Brankstone had met her death in some mysterious way, 
TriU turned his attention to trying to discover if any of the 
servants were in a position to throw light on the matter. 
For instance. Lady Brankstone could hardly have had any 
intention of leaving the house half an hour or an hour, say, 
before she went. Had it been prearranged, she would not 
have chosen such an inopportune moment. This argued 
that a message had been conveyed to her, and she had gone 
forth for some purpose not easy to define, but presumably 
with the intention of returning speedily. Now, assuming 
that this theory was correct, it followed that the person who 
conveyed the message was someone who knew the house, 
and who had access to her ladyship. Who was the some- 
one ? Trill set to work determinedly to find out. 


As her ladyship had not lived at the Manor previous to 
her return from abroad after her honeymoon trip, she was 
not familiar with any of the servants, with two exceptions, 
her maid, Annie Fenton, and Sir Benjamin's valet, Joseph 
Wright, both of whom had accompanied their master and 
mistress abroad. Miss Fenton solemnly declared that she 
had not conveyed any message to her mistress, of whose 
ai&irs she knew little or nothing, for Lady Brankstone was 
very reticent, and not at all given to making a confidante of 
her maid, as some weak-minded ladies do. Trill next 
turned his attention to Joseph Wright, who, under search- 
ing examination, betrayed himself, and confessed that on 
the night of her ladyship's disappearance he had conveyed a 
note to her, at the instigation of a man who accosted him 
in the grounds and offered him two sovereigns for his 
service. What the note contained and who the man was 
Joseph Wright vowed that he did not know. It was dark 
when the stranger met him at the lodge gate, and beyond 
the fact that he seemed of medium height, of rather stout 
build, had a raucous voice, and smelt strongly of liquor, he 
could not describe him. Joseph gave the note to her lady- 
ship about half an hour before she was missed. 

If Joseph Wright's statement was true — and Trill saw 
no reason for doubting him — it proved that some man had 
had such a powerful influence over Lady Brankstone that 
he was enabled to induce her to leave her husband's roof, on 
a bitter winter night, to meet him. Her ladyship's room 
and the pockets of her dresses were searched for the note 
which the valet said, he had given to her, but without avail. 
Not a sign was forthcoming cdculated to afford a clue. Of 
course the serpentine pond was dragged, and the ruins of 
the temple on the little island examined, but nothing came 
of it. 

All contrary to the prevailing opinion. Trill adhered to 
his belief that the lady had met with foul play. His reason 
for this was that had she intended flight she would have 
prepared herself. Had she been carried off against her will, 
some information would surely have been forthcoming from 


some quarter or another ; more particularly as Sir Benjamin 
had offered a large reward for any information that would 
lead to the lady's whereabouts being discovered. 

A consideration of all these iactS| and a careful weighing 
of the possibilities of Lady Brankstone having gone off 
with someone by prearrangement — ^and it was too wild a 
theory to suppose she would have eloped without some 
previous understanding — strengthened Trill in his belief 
in foul play. On the other hand, if she had been mur- 
dered) what had become of her body ? The grounds 
had, seemingly, been most thoroughly searched by eager 
and keen-eyed searchers, and the lake had been exhaustively 
dragged. To effectually dispose of a dead body illegi- 
timately is, as everyone knows, an exceedingly difficult 
matter. Were it not for this fact, undetected crimes would 
be far more frequent than they are. 

It was somewhat singular that Trill was quite alone in 
his opinion about foul play. What was in everyone's mind 
was that the lady, having repented her marriage, had gone 
off with some early lover. Indeed, people were not wanting 
who openly blamed Trill for * wasting his time,' as they 
said, about the house, when, if the mystery was really to be 
solved, he should go further afield. Needless to say, these 
views and opinions did not affect him in the least. He had 
thoroughly worked out the case from a theoretical point of 
view, and came to the conclusion that the lady had not 
passed beyond the grounds. He felt sure that had she 
done so some information would have been forthcoming ; 
for a lady lightly clad and in ball costume could not have 
travelled very far, in spite of any precautions that might 
have been taken, without attracting the attention of some- 
one ; and having regard to the fact that Lady Brankstone's 
portrait had been widely circulated, and a large reward 
offered for any information that would serve to throw any 
light on her disappearance, it is certain that some clue would 
have been obtained, for she could hardly have managed to 
escape the observation of everyone. But day after day 
passed by, and the ominous silence remained unbroken. To 


Trill all this was very significant ; and he felt sure the 
solution of the m3rstery need not be sought for at any great 
distance from the Manor. This was his theory, and he 
stuck to it, and his perseverance was at last rewarded by a 
startling and extraordinary discovery. 

It has already been explained that the grounds of the 
Manor were extensive and well-wooded. A boundary fence 
of stout oak encompassed the estate, and at the main entrance 
was a lodge and massive gate. At a point diametrically 
opposite the lodge, and about half a mile off, was a keepers' 
hut. Sir Benjamin retained the services of four keepers, 
and it was the duty of two of these men to be always on the 
alert at night, as great depredations had been committed in 
the neighbourhood by poachers. Near the keepers' hut was 
a small gate, communicating with a lonely country lane. 
The main entrance was from a private road about a hundred 
yards in length, branching off from the main highway. 
Anyone wishing to enter or leave the grounds must do so 
by one of the two entrances described, unless he climbed 
over some part of the boundary fence. That was the means 
of entrance and exit adopted by poachers and tramps. Now, 
no one could have passed through the main entrance 
without disturbing the lodge-keeper, as after dark the gates 
were invariably locked. The gamekeepers* gate was also 
kept locked with a chain and padlock. It was a considera- 
tion of these facts, and of the difficulties which would 
confront a lady who attempted to get out of the grounds 
any other way but the right way, which led Trill to the 
conclusion that Lady Brankstone had never passed beyond 
the grounds. With the persistency, therefore, for which he 
was noted, he traversed and retraversed the estate over and 
over again, in the hope of picking up some clue that would 
enable him to solve the mystery. At length one day, in a 
wild spot, known as Gorse Bottom, where there were some 
very old trees and a thick tangle of undergrowth, he found 
a gold watch and portion of a chain. It was a very valuable 
watch indeed, and bore the following inscription : 

* To Beatrice 5 from her loving husband.' 


The broken links of the chain showed that it had been 
forcibly wrenched from the other portion. The watch was 
lying amongst some withered bracken, and might have lain 
there for years without attracting attention. Trill came 
upon it as he was searching the ground for footprints. 

It was evident from their bright state that the watch 
and piece of chain had not been there very long, and the 
inscription indicated that the watch was a gift from Sir 
Benjamin Brankstone to his wife. Now it was evident that 
the watch could not have been dropped there by accident, 
for Gorse Bottom in the winter was a dark, swampy spot, 
not likely to be visited by a lady as a matter of pleasure. 
On one of the sloping sides of the hollow were the remains 
of a gigantic oak, that had flourished centuries ago, and had 
been one of the monarchs of the primeval forest. All that 
remained now was a stupendous trunk, with masses of 
gnarled and knotted roots, which spread out on all sides. 
The finding of the watch had necessarily stimulated Trill's 
faculties, and he noticed that the wet moss and decaying 
leaves round about the trunk of the tree had been trampled 
upon recently. Some withered branches of the tree came 
quite low down, and by their aid anyone could with 
comparative ease climb to the top of the trunk, which was 
less than twenty-five feet from the ground. Trill was 
induced to climb to the top by observing certain signs on 
the bark of the branches. Bits of wet moss and leaves, 
carried from the ground by a boot, were adhering to the 
bark. But for the finding of the watch Trill might not 
have attached any importance to this fact ; as it was, he 
was induced to ascend the tree, and on reaching the crown 
he found that the trunk was perfectly hollow. He was 
surprised to observe a stout stick laid across the hollow 
trimk, and a xope that was made fast to the stick went down 
into the hollow, like the bucket-rope of a well. He tugged 
at this rope, and found that there was a weight attached to 
it. Pulling some paper from his pocket, he lighted it, and 
held the improvised torch so that it threw its light down into 
the trunk, when to his amazement the flame revealed what 


seemed to be the top of a man's head. This indeed was a 
startling and horrible discovery, which added to the mystery 
instead of elucidating it ; for here in the hollow trunk of 
this ancient oak a man's body was suspended. What did 
it mean ? 

Whose body was it, and how came it there ? This was 
a question admitting of no answer at that stage, and all that 
Trill could do was to descend and obtain assistance. This he 
did by going to the keepers' hut and requesting some of the 
men to return with him to "Gorse Bottom. Arrived there 
they mounted the tree, and by their united efforts brought 
to light the decomposed corpse of a man about thirty 
years of age, who had died by hanging. It seemed on the 
face of it a case of suicide, and for a man to take his life in 
such a place was possibly without a parallel in the history of 
self-slaughter. Who was the man, and why had he sought 
such a secluded nook in which to end his days ? It was 
perfectly obvious that he must have been well acquainted 
with the place. He had not the appearance of a tramp, for 
his clothes were fairly good, and the state of the hands 
indicated that he had never done any manual labour. 

Needless to say that when this ghastly discovery became 
known the excitement ran up to fever heat again, for it 
only deepened the mystery, as people asked what connection 
there was between this eccentric suicide and Lady Brank- 
stone's strange disappearance ? 

It was deemed advisable at first to withhold the news of 
the suicide from Sir Benjamin for the time being, as he was 
in a very precarious state of health ; but as the inquest on the 
man's remains failed to elicit any information, or to lead to 
identification, it was deemed important that Sir Benjamin 
should be consulted. This was done, and thereupon the 
old gentleman decided that he would go and view the body, 
more as a matter of form than from any belief that he would 
be able to identify it ; but scarcely had he set eyes upon the 
ghastly remains of decaying mortality than he was seized with 
a fit, and conveyed home again in a state of unconscious- 
ness. The mystery was thus deepened, for no one seemed 


capable of offering the slightest explanation, and as Sir 
Benjamin remained in a critical condition for many days, 
during which the doctors would not allow any questions to 
be put to him, the coroner's jury returned a verdict that the 
unknown man had come to his death by his own hand, but 
there was nothing to show the state of the man's mind when 
he committed the fatal act. The outside opinion was that 
none but a madman would have selected so remarkable a 
place tp hang himself in as the hollow of a tree ; and another 
opinion, which was probably nearer the mark, was that in 
electing to take his life in the hollow oak he did so in the 
hope that his body would never be discovered. The chances 
were all in fevour of its not being found, had Trill not 
persisted in his search of the grounds. But now that this 
strange tragedy had been brought to light, what did it prove 
to the public generally ? Absolutely nothing, though it 
added another element of mystery to the existing mystery. 
Yet, oddly enough, no one associated the two save Trill 
himself. He was convinced that this man's suicide had some 
bearing on Lady Brankstone's disappearance, and he was now 
more than ever of opinion that she had been the victim of 
foul play. If his theory was correct she must have been 
murdered soon after leaving her husband's house, and that 
being so, her body could not have been taken very far away. 
Nevertheless Trill failed to get any trace of it. He again 
had the lake dragged ; he again searched the ruins of the 
Indian temple, and he once more retraced his steps over his 
tracks in different parts of the grounds, but always with the 
same result, until he reluctantly came to the conclusion that 
the search must be abandoned. 

At this stage, however, he propounded to himself a new 
theory, which ran somewhat on the following lines : 

The man who was found hanging inside of the oak tree 
must have been a very determined and very eccentric man, 
eccentric in so far as his death was concerned, at any rate, 
for the place he had selected for his self-slaughter would 
not have occurred to one man out of millions, perhaps. It 
was also self-evident that the fellow was well acquainted 


with the grounds, and knew that the oak was hollow the 
whole length of its trunk. Externally there was no indica- 
tion of that, though the practised eye of a forester might 
have determined it, but the non-expert could only have 
found it out by clambering to the top. Now supposing 
that man was responsible for the disappearance of the lady, 
was it not reasonable to assume he had been equally eccentric 
in disposing of her body f The inference was that he wished 
his crime to remain undiscovered, and took his plans 

This line of argument determined Trill on subjecting 
the oak tree to a more critical examination, in the belief 
that its dark depths might hold the solution to the mystery. 
With the aid of a ladder, and assisted by the gamekeepers, 
he once more mounted the ponderous trunk, and this time 
was provided with a lantern made fast to the end of a long 
cord. The lantern was lowered into the hollow of the 
trunk and revealed the fact that at the bottom was what 
appeared to be a heap of clothes. By dint of great labour, 
and after many difficulties had been overcome, that bundle 
of clothes was brought to the surface, and proved to be the 
body of poor Lady Brankstone, in her ball dress, as she had 
left her husband's house. That she had been murdered 
there wasn't room for a doubt, as a silk handkerchief was 
found tied round her delicate throat, and so tightly had it 
been tied that it had cut into the flesh and strangled her. 
To have carried her body up amongst the branches of the 
tree, in order to hurl it into the hollow trunk, must have 
taxed the strength of even a strong man. But the muscular 
development of the suicide made it clear that he was 
possessed of unusual strength, was an athlete in fact ; and 
everything now suggested that having slain his victim he 
disposed of the fair body by concealing it in the oak, in the 
hope that his awful crime might for ever remain a mystery, 
and for a like reason he took his own life in the same place, 
so that in due time, when the rope by which he was 
suspended rotted, his body would fall, and his bones mingle 
with those of his victim. The murderer was evidently of an 


original turn of mind, and it was no less evident he must 
have been unusually determined. 

In the bosom of Lady Brankstone's dress was a letter 
written in a man's hand, and the wording of it threw a 
weird light on the ghastly tragedy. Thus it ran : 

* My dear Beatrice — To-morrow I am going away for 
ever. I leave for London by an early train, and thence 
proceed in a few days for India, where I have resolved to 
end my days. I feel, however, that it is impossible to take 
my departure without a farewell interview with you. You 
must grant me this ; I say you must grant it. One brief 
quarter of an hour is all I ask, and you cannot, dare not 
refuse me. I appeal to you by all that you hold sacred, and 
by what we have been to each other. I am a broken, 
desolate man, and weary of my life. I have several things 
to say to you which it is necessary I should say in your own 
interest. Therefore fail not to come. We shall never 
have an opportunity of meeting again this side of the grave. 
I will be at the Apollo fountain in the Dutch garden at 9.30. 
Do not disappoint me. I will not detain you more than 
half an hour. — Yours, 

* Ronald. 

* P.S. — Destroy this note as soon as you have read it.' 

« • . . • . 

When Sir Benjamin had somewhat recovered from the 
attack which had all but snapped the thread of his life, it 
became necessary for him to give evidence at the inquest on 
the body of his ill-starred bride, and then it was that the 
foregoing letter proved to be the key to the dark and deadly 
mystery. Much as the poor suffering gentleman would 
have liked to conceal his skeleton from the vulgar gaze of the 
world he was impelled in the interests of justice to reveal the 
terrible truth. * Ronald,' it appeared, was a son by a 
former wife, but he had given way to habits which had 
caused serious difference between him and his father, and 
ultimately his father was compelled to turn him adrift. At 


one time his son had been a suitor for the hand of Beatrice, 
and there was reason to suppose she had become very fond 
of him, but his father deemed it his duty to warn her against 
him. The warning was so far eflFective that she gave him 
up, and ultimately transferred her affections to the father 
instead. Ronald had brooded over this until he lost com- 
mand of himself, and determined on an awful revenge. 
The artful wording of his letter to his victim showed that 
he did not overrate his power to influence her to grant him 
a last interview. Weakly the poor thing had yielded to 
that power, and gone forth on that dreary December night 
to her doom. It was a thoroughly human story, very sad 
and very pitiable, but none the less human, and one that 
would probably have remained for ever and ever a story of 
mystery had not Vincent Trill's remarkable skill been 
brought to bear upon it. 

Sir Benjamin Brankstone did not long survive the blow, 
and for many years Oaklands Manor remained tenantless, as 
people said a curse rested upon it. 



It was towards the end of spring, some years ago, when 
Trill was suddenly called upon to investigate a case which 
had in it all the elements of a startling romance. The 
gentleman whose name figured so prominently in the story 
was very well known in London society, and was regarded as 
one of the brilliant band of young men whom the late Earl of 
Beaconsfield — then plain Mr. Disraeli — spoke of as * the 
coming moulders of England's destiny.' This prediction 
has been somewhat falsified, although one or two of the 
band have certainly distinguished themselves. 

At the period that the events I am about to relate 
occurred, the Hon. Richard Shaw Fenton was a confidential 
clerk in the War Office, where he was looked upon with 
very great favour by his superiors. He was the son of Lord 
Jeffery Fenton, who so greatly distinguished himself during 
the Crimean War, and was honoured by being presented with 
the freedom of his native town and a jewelled sword sub- 
scribed for by his fellow townsmen. 

Young Fenton was a handsome man,'endowed apparently 
with almost all those qualities which are calculated to endear 
men to men, and beget the love and admiration of women. 
He was unmarried, and consequently he was in much 
request by designing mammas ; for although he had little to 
look forward to apart from his own efforts, it was confidently 
anticipated that he would rise to high position, as he had 
powerful friends at court. And this advantage, backed up 


by his own abilities and ambition, could not fail — so people 
said — to ultimately give him power and wealth. 

One evening, about nine o'clock, he left the War Office 
in a hansom, bearing some very important documents, 
which he was charged to deliver personally to a distinguished 
General temporarily residing at Hyde Park Gate, where he 
was confined to his room by a severe attack of gout* It 
was during a period of excitement caused by strained re- 
lations between Great Britain and France. A territorial 
difficulty had arisen between the two countries, and there 
had been such a conflict of opinion that matters had reached 
an acute stage, and in both countries the shameless catch- 
penny representatives of the press had indulged in threats 
and recriminations, and had openly talked of war. There 
had been an unusual number of * Meetings of the Cabinet.' 
The air was thick with rumours. The public mind was in 
that supersensitive condition when definiteness would have 
been hailed with joy as a relief from vagueness and suspense. 
The ignorant oracles of the halfpenny evening rags had pro- 
duced a morbid tension of the nerves amongst the unthink- 
ing classes, and sensational innuendo had lost its effi^ct. A 
real sensation was needed ; a something that would divert 
attention for the moment from the one burning topic of 
conversation — the topic which had completely overshadowed 
that ever-fruitful one of the weather. People talked of 
v^r instead of the weather. Even the barber who shaved 
you forgot his stock theme, and questioned his victim as to 
what he thought the issue of it all would be. 

The sensation so much needed came at last. In the 
early light of the spring morning, a policeman pacing his 
weary rounds in the neighbourhood of Sloane Square noticed 
a hansom cab drawn up by the railings of the square. The 
horse, probably thinking he was on his accustomed rank, 
stood limp-legged and with drooped head. The reins were 
hanging loosely on his back. The driver was on his perch, 
but the upper half of his body was prone on the roof of the 
cab. Inside was a fare, a gentleman, well dressed, but with 
shirt front crumpled, his neckgear disarranged, and his 



highly polished hat lying at his feet. Like the driver he 
seemed sunk in profound slumber, and all the efforts of the 
policeman failed to produce the slightest arousing efiect on 
either of them. Indeed it suddenly dawned upon the 
policeman, with the suddenness of a shock, that both men 
were dead. So he summoned aid, and the cab and its burden 
were taken to the nearest police station. There the two 
insensible men were hauled out, and for once the police 
inspector on duty proved that all members of the force do 
not hastily jump to the conclusion that because a man is 
speechless and helpless he is necessarily drunk, for he secured 
the assistance without loss of time of the divisional police 
surgeon. When that gentleman arrived, he pronounced the 
cab-driver in extremis^ and that pronouncement was soon 
verified, for a ghastly pallor spread itself over his face and 
his heart ceased to beat. The fare still breathed stertorously, 
and vigorous means were taken to restore animation. 
Visiting cards which he had on his person proved that he 
was no other than the Hon. Richard Shaw Fenton of the 
War Office. 

After about an hour's treatment the patient was so far 
reanimated that his removal with all speed to the hospital 
was decided on, and an ambulance having been secured, he 
was conveyed to St. George's Hospital, and a messenger was 
despatched to inform his friends. 

Nowhere at once was a first-class mystery, but, as was sub- 
sequently proved, it was only the beginning. For the suc- 
ceeding two or three days Fenton lay in a half-dazed state, 
and was incapable of answering rationally the questions put 
to him ; but one thing — and a very important thing, too 
— was brought to light. The documents he was conveying 
from the War Office to the General had not reached the 
person to whom they were addressed ; they had disappeared, 
and Mr. Fenton could give no information about them. 
His mind seemed a perfect blank. 

The post-mortem examination, which was perforce made, 
of the remains of the unfortunate cabman, revealed the fact 
that he had fallen a victim to some powerful drug, which 


had acted as a heart-depressant, and his heart being con- 
stitutionally weak, he had succumbed. In Fenton*s case 
his heart had managed to struggle against the eflFects of the 
drug, but it had been left in such a highly nervous and 
irritable state that it was considered advisable to keep him in 
a condition of absolute rest. 

In the meantime Vincent Trill had been set to work. 
The missing documents were precious — indeed, of such vital 
importance that his instructions were that he must recover 
them, if possible, at all cost. 

As may be supposed, there was a great deal more beneath 
the surface than appeared. The prying and inquisitive 
reporter got hold of the broad facts as given above, but he 
could get no more, for the friends of the Hon. Richard Shaw, 
Fenton, and the authorities alike were desirous of hushing 
the matter up, for obvious reasons ; so the reporter, with the 
monumental impudence for which he is famed, invented a 
highly plausible story one day, to contradict it and invent 
another the next. 

In order to supply the necessary evidence at the adjourned 
inquest the viscera of the cabman had been subjected to 
analysis, and the report that was finally brought up was to 
the effect that the man had died from the administration of 
a very powerful narcotic, but what it was could not be 
determined. Mr. Fenton, who had so far recovered as to be 
able to give evidence at the adjourned inquest, stated that 
he hired the cab in Pall Mall ; that on his way to Hyde Park he 
called at an hotel, where he met two friends, with whom he 
remained in conversation for nearly an hour. That previous 
to leaving the hotel he ordered some whisky and soda to be 
given to the cabman. He then got into the cab, and was 
driven oflF, and remembered nothing more. 

This remarkable story was promptly investigated. It 
was proved to be true. The hotel was a highly respectable 
house. The two friends mentioned were well-known 
gentlemen, who swore that when Fenton left there was 
nothing whatever the matter with him ; while the landlord 
of the house indignantly disputed the insinuation that the 



fatal drug had been administered at his house either wilfully 
or inadvertently. Trill's most searching investigation failed 
to disprove this assertion, so an open verdict was returned, 
and the mystery was as great a mystery as ever. It may be 
as well to state here at once that Vincent Trill came to the 
conclusion that for some terrible reason the Hon. Richard 
Shaw Fenton had lied, and, for reasons of his own, was 
concealing something which might have thrown light on the 
ai&ir. It was only too evident that the drugging was done 
after the hotel was left ; but as Fenton persisted in his 
statement, and nothing else could be dragged from him, 
there was no other course left but to endeavour to solve the 
mystery by such means as the clever detective was capable 
of commanding. There were three things that suggested 
themselves to Trill : 

Firstly, Fenton had called somewhere else after leaving 
the hotel. 

Secondly, it was known that he was the bearer of very 
important papers. 

Thirdly, he had been drugged in order that the papers 
might be stolen. 

This reasoning, however, although it seemed logical 
enough, did not suggest a rational theory as to why the cab- 
man should have been drugged too. At least, at first it did 
not ; but on pondering on the subject, it gradually dawned 
upon Trill that whoever had administered the drug intended 
that it should (and hoped that it would) prove fatal in each 
case, so that the mystery would remain a mystery for ever. It 
was very obvious that Mr. Fenton had strong reasons for 
concealing the truth, and that seemed to suggest — to Trill, 
at any rate, it did — that he had been where he ought not to 
have been, and the attraction that had drawn him there was, 
in all probability, a woman. That woman held the key 
to the problem, and unless she could be found the problem 
would go unsolved. 

It has been stated that Fenton was a bachelor, and in 
much request at houses where there were marriageable 
daughters, and was very well known to a large number of 


ladies moving in good society in London. He occupied 
apartments in St. James's Street, and was regarded as a very 
reserved and secretive man, by no means given to making 
confidants. Although all Fenton*s friends believed, or 
professed to believe, that no blame was attachable to him, 
the authorities took another view ; and as the loss of the 
papers was not only a very serious thing in itself but proved 
that Fenton was not reliable. Trill did not abandon his quest. 

When Fenton left the hospital he was still unwell, and 
remained so for some time, during which he kept to his 
rooms, and received no visitors save his most intimate friends. 
But three weeks after leaving the hospital he had so far re- 
covered his health and spirits as to accept an invitation to be 
the guest of a lady of feshion who resided near Haslemere. 
This lady — z Mrs. Gerald Vandelour — ^was very wealthy. 
She was, or was supposed to be, the widow of a military 
officer ; but those who partook of her hospitality — which 
was very lavish — did not allow any vagueness or un- 
certainty as to her past to stand as a barrier between them 
and her entertainments. Her house was a magnificent one ; 
she kept quite an army of servants, and lived in a style that 
suggested that money was no object. 

When Fenton arrived he found a large number of guests 
already assembled. On the following day there was to be 
a garden f^te on a magnificent scale, and a huge marquee 
was in process of erection on the extensive lawn, Mrs. 
Gerald Vandelour was a very showy and seductive-looking 
woman, with a mass of flufiy fair hair, and a pink and white 
complexion — due in a large measure to art — and a figure 
that inclined to stoutness ; but, nevertheless, she was 
graceful withal and lithe. She was particularly attentive to 
Fenton : indeed, she seemed to patronise him, took him 
under her wing, and treated him much as if he had been a 
great boy. 

Amongst the guests was a singularly striking woman : 
a woman so dark that she might have passed for a Spanish 
gipsy. She had raven-black hair, intensely dark flashing 
eyes, an imperious bearing, and a commanding, haughty 


manner. She was a woman of marvellous beauty, and yet 
there was something — z something that was absolutely in- 
describable — about her that repelled rather than attracted. 
In age she was under thirty-five, but might have passed for 
thir^. She was known as ^ Madame Revel.' 

Fenton looked ill, haggard, and worn ; and whenever 
Madame was near it seemed as if he tried to avoid her. 
And yet, when opportunity oflFered, she courted his society : 
she smiled on him sweetly, her white teeth gleamed, and 
her dark (lashing eyes peered into his until his drooped and 
he turned from her. 

ThtfSte was a brilliant afiair. Beauty and youth were 
strongly in evidence. Light, flowers, music, sweet scents, 
laughter, gaiety made it difficult to imagine that there was a 
heavy heart amongst that brilliant throng, or sorrow and 
suffering anywhere. It was a languid night. The air was 
heavy ; the stars shone through a haze ; a crescent moon 
sailed dreamily amongst filmy clouds. At eleven o'clock 
dancing and music ceased, in order that the guests might 
partake of supper in the great marquee, where an army of 
waiters were ready to minister to the wants of the (apparently) 
light-hearted people. But whenjthe guests took their seats 
two persons were absent. They were Madame Revel and 
Fenton. A waiter was also absent — 2l mooning, clumsy 
sort of fellow, who had been rated several times during the 
evening for his stupidity. He was known as John Stokes, 
and when the supper was in full swing John Stokes was 
nowhere to be found. Not that it mattered very much, 
for there were plenty of attendants without him ; but still, 
he ought to have done his duty. Instead of that he was 
lying at full length in the shadow of some beech trees in a 
secluded part of the grounds. But he wasn't asleep : oh, 
dear, no ! With senses keenly alert, with eyes and ear 
strained, he was witnessing a scene as weird, as startling and 
dramatic as even the most vivid imagination could conceive. 

The night was not dark. The crescent moon and the 
stars shed a dreamy light over the scene. The trees were 
sharply outlined, and looked ghostly and grim. The light 


breeze that stirred the foliage somehow sounded like a 
human moan of pain ; and the laughter and conversation 
of the revellers — subdued by distance — only seemed to 
accentuate the silence of the night that brooded like a spell 
of enchantment over the landscape. From his concealment 
in the shadow of the beeches, Stokes, the waiter, gazed on a 
lawn, in the centre of which was a very fine statue, by 
Canova, of Apollo stringing a lyre. Against the pedestal 
of the statue was a rustic seat, and two persons occupied it. 
They were the wonderfully handsome Madame Revel — ^who 
might have been the spirit of the scene, the goddess of night 
— ^and the Hon. Richard Shaw Fenton. 

At such a time and under such circumstances, it might 
have been supposed that the man had led the lady to the 
seclusion, away from the fret of the throng, that he might 
pour into her ears an impassioned tale such as a man tells 
when he has fallen a prey to beauty's charms ; but so far 
from this being the case Fenton had given evidence of being 
ill at ease. 

The conversation between the twain was carried on in 
low tones, so that the strained ears of Stokes could catch no 
portion of it, but his keen vigilant eyes saw signs that even 
a fool would have found no difficulty in interpreting. At 
times Fenton would start up as if he intended to break from 
his companion ; but then would she stretch forth a white 
jewelled hand which touched his and caused him to sink into 
the seat again. Two or three times he covered his face 
with his hands and sighed ; and once while in this attitude 
the word * Never, never ! ' repeated twice floated to the ears 
of the listener. It was like the soul-wrung exclamation 
from one who was suffering unbearable torture of mind. 
Almost immediately after he sprang to his feet as if under 
the influence of some stern resolution ; but once more 
Madame stretched forth her hand, though this time she did 
not touch him. She made strange and mystic passes in the air, 
and as if she had put forth some subtle magic he stood motion- 
less for a few moments, and then sank back like one whose 
volition had gone. She passed her hand over his head and 


down his face twice. He shuddered as if convulsed, but 
otherwise remained motionless and statue-like. The charmer 
then drew from her pocket a little book, and with a gold 
pencil began to write down something that he was saying. 

This strange scene lasted for about ten minutes. Then 
Madame rose and departed silently, save for the rustle of her 
silken skirts. For some time the man sat in a heap and 
motionless. He might have been frozen into the stony 
stillness of death ; but at last the influence of the spell passed, 
and with another convulsive shudder and a muffled cry he fell 
on his iace on the sward. Stokes emerged from his hiding- 
place, and kneeling down examined him, and as he seemed 
to be in a faint, Stokes hurried away, and procuring brandy 
returned to find Fenton partly revived and sitting up. 

* I beg your pardon, sir,' said the man ; ^ but I found you 
lying here, and thinking you were ill I hurried for some 
brandy. Here it is.' 

* Thank you, thank you,' answered Fenton, and seizing 
the glass with a nervous clutch he tossed the potent liquid 
down his throat. His face was of a ghastly pallor ; but the 
moon rays falling on his eyes filled them with a strange, 
unnatural, unearthly light. He staggered to his feet and, 
pressing both his hands to his temples, murmured : ^God 
bless my life ! How strange ! how strange ! Yes, I've 
been ill ; I must have fainted. There, thank you, that will 
do ! I am obliged for your attention. Please leave me ; I 
wish to be alone.' 

The waiter bowed and withdrew, but not far ; and, 
still watching, he beheld Fenton sink into the seat once 
more and bury his face in his hands, though he did not 
maintain this attitude long, but, rising suddenly, he 
rejoined the company, where Madame Revel was the centre 
of an admiring group of friends. The hostess caught sight 
of him, and hurrying to him exclaimed : 

* O you truant ! wherever have you been to ? ' Then 
running her eyes hurriedly over her guests, she added : 
* Now then, sir, confess 1 what pretty girl have you been 
flirting with ? ' But suddenly altering her tone from 


banter to alarm, she cried : * Why, man, how lU you look ! 
Your face is ashen. What's the matter with you ? * 

* O nothing,' he said, with a ghastly laugh ; * nothing, 
I assure you. Well, that is, not being very strong yet, 
I think I must have been overcome by the heat of the 
evening and — and feinted ; well, I fency so, for there is a 
blank I can't fill in.' 

* Poor boy ! poor boy ! ' murmured the hostess sym- 
pathetically. *Come with me now, and I will give you 
some champagne cup — it will revive you ; ' and, taking 
his arm, she led him into the marquee, as the band was 
beginning the strains of a strange and dreamy waltz. 

The following morning Stokes, the waiter, was sum- 
marily discharged as an * incompetent, clumsy, and lazy 
fellow.' Fenton remained under the roof of his hostess 
for three or four days, for he was ill and she had to nurse 
him. In the meantime, Madame Revel had taken her 
departure, and returned to her town hoiise in Sloane Street. 
The morning after her return a gentleman called at her 
residence and sent in his card, which bore the name 
* Adolphe Copp6,' and in one corner of the card was this 
sign — * * * — that is, three stars. A few minutes later he 
was ushered into Madame Revel's presence. She received 
him in her boudoir, and stretched forth her white, delicate 
hand for him to touch. She was attired in an elegant 
and costly robe. In her raven hair was a tiny red rose. 
She looked singularly handsome, and her white teeth 
gleamed as she smiled graciously on her visitor. 

* Your name is unknown to me,' she remarked prettily, 
*but you are evidently one of us. You belong to the 
Brotherhood of the Three Stars ? ' 

* You will see I have the sign on my card,' he 
answered evasively, though she did not seem to notice his 

* You have business of importance ? ' she asked, with 
a shade of anxiety shedding itself over her handsome 

* I have, madame. The president of the Brotherhood in 


Paris is pleased that you have succeeded in obtaining such 
valuable information from Mr. Fenton.' 

^ Monsieur le Pr&ident has received the papers then ? ' 
she remarked quickly. 

A strange and gratified expression came into her visitor's 
face as he answered : ^ It seems so.' 

' Ah ! that is good/ exclaimed the lady ; ' but I have done 
even better. Fenton and I were guests the other night at 
the house of a mutual friend at Haslemere, and I placed him 
under a spell and extracted from him valuable secrets, which 
I intend to convey to the president myself.' 

* Yourself ? ' 

* Yes. I leave to-morrow evening by the Paris mail 
from Victoria.' 

* You are a wonderfully clever woman,' said the guest. 
* You seem to have made good use of Fenton.' 

She smiled sarcastically as she answered : * Poor fool — 
yes. He is my tool, my slave. I have bent him to my 
will — twisted him round my finger. My power over him 
is tremendous.' 

Again the pleased and gratified expression spread itself 
over Copp6's features. 

* Of that there is no doubt,' he answered. * My object 
in calling on you was to say that your presence is earnestly 
desired in Paris ; but you have already anticipated that by 
your resolve to leave to-morrow.' 

* O yes. I had determined on that,' she answered. 

* Then I need not trouble you further, and my mission 

In a little while Copp^ took his departure, after some 
hospitality dispensed graciously by Madame. 

The following evening the lady duly drove up to Victoria 
Station and was superintending the registration of her lug- 
gage when a hand was laid upon her shoulder, and a stern 
voice said : 

* Madame Revel, I hold a warrant for your arrest.' 

She turned quickly, her eyes flashing like an enraged 


* A warrant for my arrest ? What for ? * she demanded 

* Firstly, on suspicion of causing the death of William 
Pritchard, a cabman ; and, secondly, for having stolen 
Government papers.' 

She staggered a little, as if from a shock, but quickly 
recovering, said with a sneer : 

* You are mistaken. This is infamous. You shall pay 
dearly for this insult.' 

^ If I am mistaken, that is niy afiair, and I will accept 
the penalty ; but I do not think I am mistaken. My name 
is Vincent Trill. I am a detective. As John Stokes, the 
waiter, I witnessed the scene on the lawn at Haslemere, 
when by your infamous designs and arts you deprived Fenton 
of his power of independent action.' 

Madame looked very uneasy, and cast a momentary, 
nervous glance round about, as if contemplating some means 
of escape from the trap in which she had been so cleverly 
caught. But Trill again touched her, and indicating two 
men who stood beside him, he said : 

* These are plain-clothes policemen. You would like, 
perhaps, to avoid a scene.* 

She took the hint, merely remarking : 

* I must yield to force ; but, I repeat, you are mistaken.' 
Trill and one of his men accompanied her to a cab, while 

the other man was left behind to take charge of her luggage. 
Trill had made a clever capture of one of the most daring 
and dangerous of a band of notorious conspirators in the pay 
of the French Secret Service, whose ramifications extended to 
every capital of Europe. He had come to suspect Madame 
by having closely shadowed Fenton, and found that he was 
in the habit of regularly visiting the lady, with whom he had 
become madly infetuated. On the night that he was ordered 
to convey the papers to the house of the General at Hyde 
Park, there is no doubt he called at Madame Revel's house 
on his way in compliance with a note he had received from 
her. There he and the cabman were dosed with some 
subtle drug. The unfortunate cabman was included, pre- 


sumably because it was deemed advisable that he and his 
fare might fail into the hands of the police as * drunk and 
incapable ; ' and in order to avoid a scandal, Fenton would 
necessarilv have preserved silence as to his movements. In 
spite of Trill's cleverness, however, Madame Revel managed 
to checkmate him, but at a fearful cost. When she arrived 
at Bow Street it was found that she was sufiering from ill- 
ness, and before medical aid could be summoned she had 
lapsed into insensibility from which nothing could arouse her, 
and in four hours she had ceased to breathe. A daring and 
determined woman, she had played for high stakes, and 
finding herself on the losing side she had managed while 
in the cab to convey a deadly drug to her lips, and thus 
paid the penalty of her crimes with her life. 




In one of the most beautiful parts of Warwickshire, within 
almost a stone's throw of the banks of the classic Avon, the 
Red House Farm stood. It was an old Elizabethan mansion, 
and was said to have been at one time the home of Sir Geoflfrey 
Dimpster, a celebrated wit in the Virgin Queen's time. 
Unfortunately for himself, however, he managed to offend 
her Majesty mightily by some ill-considered jest, and was 
forced to fly the country. After that the house saw many 
vicissitudes, and at one period was temporarily occupied by a 
body of Oliver Cromwell's lambs, who cut and hacked it 
nearly to pieces, and ended by a cruel crime which was quite 
characteristic of these psalm-singing hypocrites. They 
strung up to one of the smoke-blackened beams in the great 
kitchen an old white-headed peasant, whose only o&nce 
was that he had been heard to exclaim, *Grod bless the 
King ! ' 

After that deed of darkness the mansion fell into evil 
repute. A legend in connection with it says that the old 
peasant's body continued to hang from the improvised gallows 
until the flesh fell from the bones, and for many years after 
that the skeleton swung and jangled in the blasts that flew 
through the broken windows, and in itself was the cause of 
another tragic event. A huntsman sought shelter in the 
ruined house during the raging of a fearful storm, and enter- 
ing the kitchen hurriedly, the place being in partial darkness, 


he bumped against the swinging skeleton, and, the rotten rope 
that held it breaking, the bones fell with a crash at his feet. 
The shock was so severe that he lost his reason. After that 
the house got a worse reputation than ever, and there was a 
talk of razing it to the ground ; but ultimately a buyer came 
forward in the person of a builder from Warwick, who 
bought the place for an old song with the intention of 
utilising the timber and other materials of which it was built. 
But, singularly enough, a week after he had completed his 
purchase, he was going over the house in order to make a 
survey of it, and was in the act of descending one of the 
stairways when a stair, rotten with age and damp, gave way 
under him, and, pitching head foremost, he fell down the 
whole flight and broke his neck. 

As may be imagined, the tragic occurrence invested the 
accursed place with a new horror, and for another long series 
of years it stood a blackened wreck and ruin amidst the most 
glorious surroundings, when it passed into the hands by 
purchase of a Mr. George Rutland, who was an extensive 
landowner and farmer in Warwickshire and Herefordshire. 
This gentleman at once set to work to purge it of its evil 
reputation by restoring it and adapting it to the requirements 
of a modern farmhouse, and it became known far and wide 
as the Red House Farm. At the time of the events I am 
now about to record, the Red House Farm was in the pos- 
session of a Mr. Tom Hepworth Rutland, a lineal descendant 
of George Rutland. Tom Rutland had resided in India for 
some years, and at one time had been in the service of the 
Honourable East India Company. While quite a young man 
he had married the daughter of an Indian Civil servant, who 
bore him two children. Soon after the last child was born, 
Mr. Rutland received an intimation from England that, by 
the death of a relative, he had become entitled to certain 
property, including the Red House Farm. On receiving 
this news he at once left India with his wife and family. 
He was still a young man, being under thirty, and his wife 
was still younger. Mrs. Rutland, who had been born in 
India, had never visited England before. About two years 


after the young people had settled down on their property, 
the Red House Farm once more became the scene of a very 
extraordinary tragic event, which for a time caused intense 
excitement throughout the county, and the popular belief 
in the ill-luck of the house was revived. And ultimately 
this event was the means of bringing Vincent Trill upon the 

Mr. and Mrs. Rutland had had in their service a young 
lady named Hester Gilroy, who occupied the position of 
nursery governess. She was about nineteen or twenty 
years of age, and exceedingly good-looking. As was 
subsequently disclosed. Miss Hester Gilroy unwittingly led 
to dissension between the husband and wife. The lady 
accused her husband of neglecting her and paying too much 
attention to the pretty governess, and matters became so 
unpleasant that at last Mr. Rutland sent Miss Gilroy away. 
Then apparently the wife repented, and begged her husband 
to bring the governess back again, as the children were 
fretting for her. This request was granted, and Miss Hester 
Gilroy was reinstated in her former position. Three months 
passed, when early one April morning a gardener going 
through the grounds was horrified at discovering the body 
of a young woman lying on the gravel path at the back of 
the house. She was in her night clothes, her feet and legs 
being bare ; and from the feet that a bedroom window above 
where she was lying was wide open, the conjecture was she 
had fellen out. The man of course raised an alarm at once, 
and the body proved to be that of Miss Gilrov. The first 
supposition of accident seemed to be confirmed by an 
examination of her room. The door was locked, and had to 
be burst open. It was then seen that the bed had been used, 
but for some inscrutable reason the young lady had got up, 
and either thrown herself out or tumbled from the window. 
It was an old-feshioned casement window and opened out- 
wards, and the height from the ground was about thirty 
feet. The theory was, the night being unusually warm for 
the time of year, that Miss Gilroy had got up to open her 
window to admit fresh air, when, probably attracted by the 


singing of some nightingales in a grove hard by — the'whole 
neighbourhood was renowned for nightingsJes — she had 
leant out and overbalanced herself. 

That was all very well and all feasible enough until 
the doctors came to examine the body. They were then 
confronted with some rather startling fects. With the 
exception of two of the fingers on the left hand no bones 
were broken. There was no fracture of the skull, though 
the face was disfigured by coming in contact with the 
gravel. The fingers had no doubt been broken by the fall, 
but that was not sufficient to account for death. Under 
these circumstances it became necessary to make a post- 
mortem examination. It was then discovered that the poor 
girl would have experienced the pangs of maternity in the 
course of a few months. Certain appearances in the stomach 
and other organs of the body aroused the suspicions of the 
medical men who had been requested to carry out the 
autopsy, and they expressed an opinion that Miss Gilroy had 
not lost her life by felling from the window, but had been 
poisoned, and then thrown out. It was a case, not of 
accident, but suicide or murder. If suicide, she must have 
taken poison first and then thrown herself out, or struggled 
to the casement for air and feUen out. 

It was but natural, having regard to the girl's condition, 
that the opinion should incline to suicide. It was subse^ 
quently proved beyond doubt that she had died from a most 
powerfiil vegetable poison, but what it was could not be de- 
termined. It was not a poison apparently included in the 
* British Pharmacopoeia.' A most careful search of the room 
and her belongings feiled to discover a vestige of poison of 
any kind, and the mystery deepened. The girl's friends, 
including her fether and mother, and sister and brother, 
averred that she was of the most cheerful disposition, and 
not in the least likely under any circumstances to take her 
own life. Amongst a bundle of letters found in one of her 
boxes were three or four from Mr. Tom Hepworth Rutland. 
They were simply signed * Tom,' but the handwriting he 
admitted was his. The one which had the most importance 


as bearing on the case had been hastily written in pencil, 
and was thus worded : 

*You must bear up and be cheerful. We will think 
out a plan. Something will have to be done : what, I don't 
know at this moment. If our secret were to leak out it 
would mean for me black disaster and ruin. At all costs 
that must be averted. I rely on your silence, your discre- 
tion, your love. The past cannot be recalled ; but we must 
so shape our conduct in the future as to avoid arousing 
suspicion. How would you like to go to India ? I have 
some friends there who would look after you, and your 
relatives might be led to believe that you had received an 
appointment as a governess. Think it over and be sure you 
burn this letter. 

* Tom.' 

The request to burn the letter appeared in each of them, 
but Miss Gilroy, like most young women under similar 
circumstances, ignored the request, and documentary evidence 
of a very unpleasant character was thus furnished against 
Mr. Tom Hepworth Rutland, and strong and severe were 
the unkind things said about him. 

The coroner's inquiry into the cause of the girl's death 
was adjourned from week to week for some time, in the 
hope that evidence might be forthcoming which would 
serve to clear up the mystery, but nothing cropped up, 
nothing was discovered to justify the jury returning a 
verdict of either murder or suicide ; and so, after a very 
exhaustive inquiry indeed, the verdict was that ^ The 
deceased came by her death through poison, but how the 
poison was administered there was no evidence to show/ 

This is what is known as ^ an open verdict,' and leaves 
the course clear for any future action. It is perhaps needless 
to say that the feeling against Mr. Rutland throughout the 
county was very strong, and thoughtless and stupid people 
did not hesitate to accuse him of having destroyed the girl. 
The sad end to the young and promising life was a source 
of keen anguish to her friends, who were all highly fespect- 


able people, and they considered it was their duty to use 
every legitimate means in their power to discover who was 
responsible for her death, as they resolutely declined to 
entertain for a moment the theory of suicide. It thus came 
about that Trill was called in and requested to exert his 
skill in trying to unravel the mystery. 

Of course, the relations between Mr. Rutland and his 
wife not only became very strained, but led to open rupture, 
and as she was a very fiery and impulsive woman she did 
not spare him ; and notwithstanding the urgent entreaties of 
friends and relatives, she resolved to leave him, and with her 
children went to reside in London. Mr. Rutland thus 
found himself in most distressful circumstances, as his 
servants, sharing the common feeling, left in a body, and he 
had to import people to carry on the farm. 

It must be stated here that Rutland, from the very first, 
solemnly and stoutly protested his innocence. He confessed 
that he had been enamoured of Miss Gilroy, but there his sin 
ended, and he declared that in spite of the tremendous feeling 
against him he should stand his ground, for he was confident 
that some day the truth would come out. He went further 
than this even, and offered a reward of five hundred pounds 
for any information that would tend to clear up the mystery 
and establish his own innocence. 

All this — the reward, his protestations, his assertions — 
had little or no influence. The prevailing opinion was that 
his motive for destroying the unhappy young lady was so 
strong that his hand alone must have administered the fatal 

It was a terrible position for a man to be placed in. 
The shadow upon him was the shadow of a cruel and 
dastardly crime, and not only was he shunned, but the Red 
House Farm was now regarded as a house doubly accursed. 
He had the greatest difficulty in selling his produce, and 
equal difficulty in getting servants to remain. But in spite 
of everything he boldly held his ground, and people under 
their breath spoke of him as * a cool, calculating, heartless 
villain.* It is interesting to record Vincent Trill's opinion. 


He says that Rutland was a gentlemanly, fascinating man, 
with a courteous bearing, and an air of irankness that was 
very impressive, and Trill himself, although he did not say 
so then, came to the conclusion that Rutland was not a 

The case was one which was certainly shrouded in the 
deepest mystery, and seldom had Trill been placed at such a 
disadvantage, for when he commenced his investigations 
weeks had passed from the day of the deed, and it seemed 
hopeless to expect that at that late period any clue would 
be obtained. 

It has been stated that the poison which had caused Miss 
Gilroy's death was unknown in British pharmacy, and a 
good deal of discussion took place on the subject in the 
public press, and many were the opinions, some rational, 
some stupid, others outrageous, that were expressed. The 
analysis that had been made by the Government analyst had 
quite failed to determine or class the poison beyond a vague 
generalisation which in effect pronounced it a vegetable 
alkaloid which had produced rapid death by corrosion of the 
mucous membrane and paralysis of the heart. 

At the time of the Red House Farm tragedy very 
much less was known of vegetable poisons than at the 
present day, and though during the last thirty years the 
science of toxicology has made rapid strides, the vegetable 
kingdom is still capable of furnishing life-destroying proper- 
ties which can defy even modern science. 

In endeavouring to solve the complicated problem that 
was presented to him. Trill left no detail unexamined, and 
in particular he bestowed much attention on the fact of the 
locked door. It was stated in evidence, and proof to 
substantiate it was forthcoming, that Miss Gilroy's bedroom 
door was found locked and had to be burst open. But 
there was one point which, singularly enough, was not 
cleared up, indeed it was not mentioned at all. That was 
as to whether or not the key was on the inside of the lock. 
The obvious inference to be drawn from this point not 
having been dwelt upon at the inquest was that it was not 

D 2 


considered of any importance. Vincent Trill, however, 
took a very different view, and considered the matter of vital 
interest. The man who burst open the door was the 
gardener who found the girl's body on the gravel path. 
He was a man of about fifty years of age, very typical of his 
class, but with the observant faculties highly developed. 
Having a very comfortable position in Mr. Rutland's employ, 
with good wages, and a snug cottage to live in, and being 
a widower with two grown-up daughters, both of them in 
service, he had not allowed himself to be influenced by 
the excitement of the hour, nor the common prejudice, and 
had kept his situation. He was naturally a reticent man, 
but he positively asserted to Trill that when he broke 
open the door he noticed that the key was not in the lock. 
The man could give no particular reason why he gave 
attention to this matter, when everyone else was engrossed 
with the main subject — the girl's death. It was his habit, 
he said, to notice small things. In answer to Trill's inquiry 
as to what his opinion was about the affair, he shrugged in 
a singularly impressive manner, which indicated, as plainly 
as such an action could indicate, that he shared the popular 
belief about his master, but wasn't such a fool as to cut his 
nose off* to spite his face. He had a good berth, and 
intended to keep it. 

^ I has my own opinions,' he said in words, ^ but I keeps 
*em to myself.' 

Trill next directed his inquiries into other quarters, 
with a view to determining whether anyone had seen the 
key, and what had become of it. However, no information 
was forthcoming. Nobody had seen the key ; nobody had 
thought about it. 

Now, it was self-evident to anyone who looked at the 
matter with a logical inquisitiveness, that if the door had 
been locked from the inside the key would have been in the 
lock. At least the chances were a thousand to one on it, 
for if Miss Gilroy had locked her door on retiring, it was 
difficult for anyone to frame a theory which would rationally 
have accounted for her removing the key. Therefore the 


deduction was that the door had been locked from the out- 
side, and if that was so, whoever locked the door murdered 
Miss Gilroy. 

Trill had very carefully weighed all the evidence in 
favour of suicide, and all the evidence against it, and to his 
mind there seemed an overwhelming preponderance of 
conclusions to be drawn which tended to negative the 
suicide theory. Let us see how he worked them out. 
Firstly, the girl's bed had been occupied. By whom ? 
Presumably by the girl herself. Secondly, she was in her 
night clothes when found. That conclusively proved that 
she had retired for the night. Thirdly, she had been with 
the children up to half-past nine on the night of her death. 
On leaving them she partook of a very light supper in the 
kitchen, as was her habit, and then retired, and nobody had 
seen her alive again. At break of day — say a little before 
six — her body was found on the gravel path beneath the 
window. The medical evidence testified that when found 
she had been dead some hours, and she had not been killed 
by the jfall, but in all probability was dead when she fell or 
was thrown from the window. If she had poisoned herself, 
why did she go to the window ? The probable answer to 
this is, having taken the fatal dose, she repented, and in her 
death agony struggled to the window to get air and so over- 
balanced. But let it be remembered that if she was in the 
death agony she would hardly have had the physical power 
to struggle to the window. Moreover, the sill of the 
window was four feet two inches from the floor of the room, 
therefore even a tall person would have to lean pretty 
hr out to overbalance. Miss Gilroy was not tall ; she was 
below the medium height, and of light build. 

Having decided in his own mind that the case was one 
of murder. Trill carried out his investigations accordingly, 
and he endeavoured in every possible way to account for the 
key mystery. What had become of the key ? That was a 
question that had to be answered in order to get a clue to 
the murder. Another obscure point that had to be cleared 
up was the method and medium by which the poison had 


been administered. She had partaken of her supper in the 
kitchen between half-past nine and ten. The supper con- 
sisted of a glass of milk and a slice of brown bread and 
butter. It was stated at the inquest that these things were 
given to her by the cook, and she partook of them in 
the presence of the cook, who at the same time had some 
iJeer and cheese. The cook swore that she poured the 
glass of milk from a large jug that was full. The rest of 
the milk was consumed bv the family with no ill effects. 
Consequently, the milk hadn't been poisoned. The cook 
further stated that Miss Gilroy was in the best of spirits and 
unusually cheerful when she went upstairs to bed. It 
followed, therefore, that she took the poison after she 
reached her bedroom. On the first blush that favoured the 
theory of suicide, but when it was looked into there was 
nothing to justify such a theory. Trill's own theory was 
this : Miss Gilroy had gone to bed and fallen asleep. The 
murderer then entered the room, either by means of a &lse 
key, or because the door was unlocked. If the latter, he 
must have taken the precaution to previously remove the 
key from the door. Probably the girl, not finding the key 
there, did not concern herself much about it, if at all. The 
crime having been committed, the criminal stealthily with- 
drew, having first thrown the body from the window, 
thereby thinking the case would be considered one of 
suicide. So it might have been had there been a fractured 
skull or dislocated neck. The absence of external causes 
of death had led to the post-mortem, and the post-mortem 
had revealed the presence of poison. When the poisoner 
had done his horrid work he locked the door after him, 
thinking that he was thus carefully guarding himself 
against all possibility of detection. But it was a blunder. 
It would have been better to have left the door unlocked. 

Trill inquired of those most likely to know if Miss 
Gilroy was a sound sleeper, and it did not surprise him to 
be told that she was an unusually sound sleeper. On one 
occasion a nursemaid, when the house happened to be over- 
crowded with visitors, slept with Miss Gilroy for several 


nights, and to use this girl's expressive phrase, ^ You might 
have fired a cannon over the young lady's head when once 
she was sound asleep, and it wouldn't have wakened her.' 
This infornution led Trill to consult the celebrated authority 
on poisons, the late Sir George Arthur Meldrum, as to 
whether it was possible or not to administer poison to a 
person sleeping soundly. The answer was that a person 
who slept soundly generally slept with the mouth open. 
Now, supposing such a person to be lying on his back, a 
subtle and potent poison might be dropped into the mouth, 
when there would in all probability be an autoniatic and 
involuntary action of the muscles of the throat which would 
cause the poison to be swallowed. This opinion of so 
eminent an authority confirmed Trill in the opinion he had 
come to, that the girl had been poisoned in her sleep. Sir 
George also stated, in reply to a further question, that he 
believed the vegetable kingdom was capable of furnishing 
poisons so powerful as to produce almost instant insensibility 
when swallowed. Granted that all this was something more 
than mere theory. Trill felt convinced that he had discovered 
the whole plan of the dark deed, and whoever the guilty 
person was, his nature was cruel, cold, calculating, and 

Having reached this stage in his investigations, Vincent 
Trill now turned to motive. Apparently the one person 
who, above all others, had the strongest motive, was Tom 
Hepworth Rutland. There could be no denying that on 
the face of it. And yet Trill did not believe Rutland 
was guilty. The reasons for this belief were rather of a 
complex character, but, broadly put, they resulted from the 
marvellous intuitive faculty whereby the detective was 
enabled to form almost unerring judgments from the manner 
of a person and the expression of the face. He held staimchly 
to the theory that a person having guilty knowledge was 
bound to betray himself by outward and visible signs under 
circumstances fevourable to this betrayal. The thing was 
to be able to read and understand the signs, and that Trill 
undoubtedly could do. He laid no claim to be considered 


iniallible, but he had great faith in his own judgment and 
deductions, and that faith was justified by his many successes. 
Of course he did not always succeed in the tasks he under- 
took. But where he failed the chances are other men 
would have failed also. So far, then, the theory he had 
constructed was this : The guilty person stole into the 
sleeping girl's room, poured a few drops of a frightfully 
deadly poison into her mouth, and when the fiendish act 
was completed by the death of the victim, the body was 
dropped from the window, the door locked, and the key 
carried off. Mr. Hepworth Rutland had certainly a motive 
for the crime, but Trill considered him innocent, and 
turned his attention to another person who had a greater 
motive, and was moved by a passion which is responsible for 
some of the most awful crimes in human history. Trill up 
to this stage had conducted his inquiry and investigation 
in the quiet, unobtrusive, and insidious manner which was 
natural to him, and he had devoted a fortnight of earnest 
thought and study to it. His next move now was to have 
another interview with Hepworth Rutland, who, in spite 
of the courage and resolution he had displayed, had felt his 
position keenly, as was evinced by his haggard, careworn 
face. During the bitter weeks that had passed since the 
fatal night he had aged years in appearance. He anxiously 
inquired of Trill if he had come to any conclusion in the 
matter, but Trill evaded the question by saying : 

* It is never safe to speak positively from mere conjec- 
ture. But I want to ask you a question ; in fact, several. 
Firstly, you were very fond of Miss Gilroy ? ' 

* Frankly and honestly, I was. It is no use my at- 
tempting to disguise the fact. Of course the world will 
condemn me for it, but I cannot help it, I don't know 
that I even care. The lady I married was not suited to me, 
or I was not suited to her, whichever way you like to put 
it. My wife was cold, unsympathetic, as incapable of dis- 
playing an emotion as she was of expressing a sentiment. 
What she lacked, and what I craved for, I found in Miss 
Gilroy. Of course, according to the laws of society as it is 


constituted, my love for Miss Gilroy was an outrage and a 
crime. Very well. I confess my sin. I bow to those 
laws, but if 1 might be permitted to put in a tiny plea of 
justification, it would be that I am human. Although I 
had a wife I was compelled by her cold nature to lead a 
lonely life, so to speak. I think she came to regard me 
rather as her servant than her husband. She was a peculiarly 
exacting woman, and by her own conduct drove me into 
the arms of Miss Gilroy.* 

* All that is mere ex parte^ answered Trill. * No doubt 
Mrs. Rutland would have a different story to tell.' 

*Not the slightest doubt, and yet I speak truthfully. 
But let that pass. I accept all the penalty, all the odium 
attaching to my wrong-doing. The penalty is certainly a 
very heavy one, for while I am far from being an old man I 
feel that the shadow that has fallen upon me will render my 
life henceforth one of gloom and misery. Indeed, I feel as 
if I had nothing to live for.' 

* Of course you are sincerely desirous of clearing up the 
mystery surrounding the death of Miss Gilroy ? ' 

* Unquestionably I am.' 

* Are you inclined now to believe that she committed 
suicide ? ' 

* I cannot bring myself to think she did.' 

* But you admit the possibility of it ? ' 

* Yes, the possibility only.' 

* Not the probability ? ' 

* Why not ? ' 

* She had a strong love of life. She was of a singularly 
bright and cheerful disposition ; and I don't believe that 
even the knowledge of what the near future held for her 
would have tempted her to so rash a deed.' 

* Then, as you scout the idea of suicide you must believe 
in that of murder ? ' 

* Undoubtedly I do.' 

* And have you ever tried to think who the person is or 
was who committed the crime ? ' 


^ I have/ answered Rutland hesitatingly. 

* Do you feel yourself free to give a name to the 
person ? ' 

^ No/ Rutland said, after a considerable pause, ^ I do 
not. The law has endeavoured to discover the person, and 
failed. The law has suspected me, and its suspicion still 
rests upon me. Supposing, therefore, I were to rise up as 
an accuser, who would believe, unless I had the most irre- 
fragable proof, and where can I get the proof ? I may sus- 
pect, I may feel certain, but without proof I am helpless.' 

* Supposing, Mr. Rutland,' said Trill gravely, * I give 
shape to your thoughts, and a name to the person you 
suspect ? ' 

Rutland appeared to be startled. His pale face in- 
creased in pallor, and his eyes fixed themselves on Trill 
with an acuteness of gaze which indexed something of the 
thoughts that were passing through his mind. 

* Well,' he almost gasped in a peculiarly raucous voice, 
* well, whom do you suspect ? ' 

* Your wife.' 

Rutland, who was seated at a table, let his head fall 
upon his arms, and groaned. Then he quickly raised him- 
self, and asked in great agitation : 

* Why do you suspect my wife ? ' 

* Hadn't she a powerful motive ? * 

* What motive ? ' 

* Jealousy.' 

Rutland made no reply, but buried his face again. 

* It's a terrible thing, of course,' continued Trill, * for 
a man in your position to have to think his wife guilty of 
so foul and horrible a crime. But jealousy drives women 
to madness, and you must remember that you gave your 
wife legitimate cause for jealousy.' Rutland groaned again, 
but could not speak. * Of course,' Trill went on, * however 
dreadful it may be to contemplate the result of these 
suspicions of mine being well founded, the law cannot 
be hoodwinked. It is certainly singular that though you 
have been, and are still, suspected, not the slightest shadow 


of suspicion has feUen on your wife. She has been com- 
miserated with, and regarded as a deeply injured woman. 
Perhaps,' added Trill, with a certain dryness which passed 
unnoticed, * perhaps, however, I am doing a wrong in 
suspecting her, for I haven't an atom of proof. I am search- 
ing for proof, but may never find it. But I should like 
to examine your wife's rooms, and anything she may have 
left behind her.' 

Rutland rose like a man in a dream, and his haggard 
face was pitiable. He drew from his pocket a large key 
and laid it on the table, saying in a hollow voice : 

* That is the key of her room. I locked the place up 
when she went, and have never been in since. She took 
her departure abruptly and hurriedly, and I believe there 
are still some of her clothes in the wardrobe, and a box in 
the room, though what the box contains I haven't the 
remotest idea. It has no interest for me. She has inspired 
me with such a strong feeling of dislike that I do not wish 
to see anything that can recall my unpleasant recollections 
of her.' 

The painful interview ended, and Trill proceeded at 
once to Mrs. Rutland's room. It was a very large apart- 
ment, with a boudoir leading out of it. There was 
evidence of the place having remained absolutely un- 
disturbed since the lady's departure, for there were some 
shreds of paper on the carpet, some hairpins on the dressing- 
table, and hair combings in a cardboard receptacle hanging 
at the side of a large looking-glass. In a wardrobe hung 
two or three dressing-gowns, a dress or two, and other 
articles of feminine attire ; and in one corner of the room 
was a large, old-fashioned leather trunk. 

Trill began his examination very systematically. He 
scrutinised the carpet, going down on his hands and knees 
for the purpose. He turned down the bedclothes and 
turned them up again. Then he took out the various 
garments from the wardrobe and inspected them very care- 
fully one by one. One of the dressing-gowns was made 
of merino of a very delicate lavender colour, lined with 


amber silk. In the pocket of this gown was a key, the 
key of a door. As Trill drew it forth and held it between 
himself and the light, the better to examine it, his dreamy 
eyes for once lost their dreamy expression, and grew 
brilliant with excitement. Before another five minutes 
had elapsed he tried that key in the door of the late Miss 
Gilroy's room, and found that it fitted. He might be 
pardoned if at that supreme moment he experienced a 
thrill of conscious pride as he felt that his reasoning had 
not led him astray, and that he had tracked his quarry as a 
well-trained bloodhound tracks his. 

In a legal sense, of course, the evidence afi&rded by 
this key might have been regarded as so slender that unless 
with other things it would not be allowed to count. But 
Trill had not finished yet. He noticed on the left cuflF of 
the sleeve some rather striking yellowish stains, as though a 
corrosive liquid had been splashed or spilt on the material. 
So he put that gown carefully on one side, and turned his 
attention to the box. There seemed to be nothing of 
importance in this box. Some old shoes and slippers, a pair 
of corsets, a quantity of old linen, and two or three old 
petticoats. At the bottom of the trunk was a carved 
Indian sandal-wood cabinet with two tiny drawers in it. 
These drawers had to be forced open, as they were locked. 
But the task was an easy one, for the fastenings were very 
flimsy. In one of the drawers was a packet of brown 
powder, which gave forth a faint, sickly odour. Very 
carefully indeed Trill folded up the packet again, and then 
tied it in another wrapper, and proceeded with his investi- 
gation, but brought nothing else to light of a suspicious 
character. The packet of powder and the dressing-gown 
were in due course submitted to an eminent chemist for 
examination, and ultimately he reported that the powder 
was the extract of a plant, but that he knew of no plant in 
Great Britain that would yield such a powder. It was 
probably procured from some Indian herb. Its properties 
were of a very deadly character. The powder dissolved 
readily in alcohol, and a few drops were sufficient to kill 


rabbits in two or three minutes. When some of it was 
sprinkled on the dressing-gown it produced stains identical 
with those on the sleeve. After various experiments the 
conclusion he came to was that a dessert-spoonful or less of 
this preparation introduced into the human stomach would 
bring about death almost as rapidly as prussic acid. 

Now, what was the deduction from this important dis- 
covery ? Could it be other than that Mrs. Rutland was a 
murderess i She was known to be of an extremely jealous 
disposition, and a woman of strong will and determination. 
It was feasible to suppose that she had allowed her jealousy 
to rankle until it inflamed her blood, and made her regard- 
less of the sanctity of human life. It is equally feasible that 
after Miss Gilroy had been discharged, Mrs. Rutland found 
or suspected that her husband was still keeping up the 
connection. Then it occurred to the wretched woman to 
take the girl back again, with the deliberate intent of 
destroying her when opportunity occurred. Having been 
born in India, and having spent nearly the whole of her 
life there, she would have some knowledge of the deadly 
poisons used by the natives of that country as a means of 
silently getting rid of their enemies. Her cold, deliberate 
planning of the crime, and the pitiless and cunning way in 
which it was carried out, proclaimed her to be a woman of 
a remorseless and fiendishly vindictive disposition. And so 
artfully had the whole scheme of the crime been arranged 
and carried out that, but for a blunder or two, it might 
easily have been classed as a suicide, and, as it was, might 
have remained for ever undetected but for the marvellous 
skill of Vincent Trill. 

Although the presumptive evidence of Mrs. Rutland's 
guilt was very strong, it had yet to be established legally, 
and a warrant was issued for her arrest, but that warrant 
was never executed. In keeping with the cunning she had 
all along displayed, she had secretly left London, taking her 
children with her. Every possible means at the disposal of 
the police were used to trace her whereabouts, but they all 
failed. There was a suspicion — but it remained a suspicion 


only — that her husband had not only warned her of her 
danger, but had supplied her with ample funds, and as 
she was a resourceful, self-dependent, and strong-minded 
woman, she would know how to take care of herself. Now, 
whether this suspicion was or was not well founded, the 
fact remained ttmt Mrs. Rutland and her children dis- 
appeared, as it were, into space, and poor Miss Gilroy's 
cruel murder remains to the present day unavenged. 

The terrible tragedy and its collateral consequences so 
affected Mr. Hepworth Rutland that his mind became 
unhinged, and it was necessary to place him under restraint. 

The evil reputation of the Red House Farm was 
strengthened by the events recorded in this story, and 
though the place was in the market for years neither a 
purchaser nor a tenant could be found. Ultimately it was 
pulled down and a church erected on the site. 

Note bv the Author. — It may be interesting to 
state that the poison which undoubtedly destroyed Miss 
Gilroy's life was subsequently identified and classed, al- 
though owing to its deadly nature it is never used in 
medical practice. It is the produce of a plant which grows 
rankly in the Indian swamps, and has probably been known 
to the natives for centuries, for secret poisoning has been a 
crime common in India from time immemorial. 



One morning — it was early in September — Vincent Trill had 
retired after breakfast to his sanctum to read his correspond- 
ence and glance over the daily papers. It was his habit 
when at home to spend an hour at least in this seclusion^ 
and the members of his household had orders not to dis- 
turb him unless exceptional circumstances necessitated it. On 
this particular morning he had scarcely settled himself when 
there was a gentle rap at his door, and as he allowed the 
rap to pass unnoticed it was repeated with vigour and a 
certain peremptoriness which seemed to in.dicate a message 
of importance, so he sang out * Come in,* and when the 
door swung open the parlourmaid stood on the threshold 
with a card in her hand. 

* A gentleman, sir, wishes to see you. I told him that 
you were engaged, but he said he had come a long way, and 
must see you.' 

* Who is it, do you know ? ' 

* Here is his card, sir.' 

Trill took the card and read : 

Montague Fairfax Green, M.D., 


Bed Bank, 



On the top, over the name, was written in pencil, 
* Business of a very urgent character.' 

*Show the gentleman up, Annie,' was Trill's order, 
and Annie retired to do his bidding. A few minutes later 
she returned, and ushered in a grave, professional-looking 
gentleman, attired in the conventional frock-coat, and hold- 
ing in his gloved hands a highly polished hat. He was 
slightly above medium height, with a thoughtful earnest 
&ce, his deep-set blue eyes thrown into relief by a slight 
fringe of silvery whisker. Save for this whisker his face was 
clean shaven, and the well-shaped mouth, and the lines about 
it, clearly indicated great force of character, but the general 
expression was one of a benevolent and kindly disposition. 
Although there was no sign of baldness his hair was 
decidedly grey, and yet he could not have been more than 

^ I must apologise for thus intruding upon you, Mr. 
Trill,' he said, as he placed his hand upon the table, and 
began to slowly pull off his gloves with that deliberate 
gravity characteristic of the country practitioner. As he 
stretched the gloves, drew them through his left hand, and 
dropped them into his hat, he took the seat which Trill 
indicated. * The fact is, I have come up from Dorchester 
on purpose to see you, and as it is important that I should 
return to-day, as I have left no locum tenens to attend to 
my patients, I have been compelled to call on you thus 

Vincent Trill bowed. 

* What can I have the pleasure of doing for you. Dr. 
Green ? ' he asked. 

* The errand upon which I have come is a delicate and 
a peculiar one, and I shall have to take you into my con- 
fidence to a considerable extent, that is, if I am not wrong 
in assuming that you will not be indisposed to aid me 
with your professional services.' 

* My services are at your disposal, D^. Green ; providing 
time and other arrangements are favourable.' 

* Well, then, perhaps I had better ask you if you can 


accompany me back to Dorchester to-day, or go down 
within the next three days ? ' 

Trill consulted his diary, and announced that he could 
go to Dorchester within the ensuing three days, providing 
he was not likely to be detained long. 

^ It is difficult for me to say how long you may be de- 
tained,' said the doctor. * Let me tell you, however, what 
the business is. As you will see by my card, I am a 
medical man, and in practice in Dorchester, where I have 
resided for nearly twenty-five years. Amongst my patients 
at present is a young lady in whom I am deeply interested. 
She is an orphan, and entitled to a large fortune when she 
comes of age in two years* time. She is now under the care 
of a widowed aunt, who is her legally appointed guardian, 
and she lives with this aunt and a male and female cousin 
in a curious old house — part of the girl's property — 
known as " the Grange," which is situated in a lonely spot 
in the suburbs of Dorchester. For a long time I have been 
treating this young lady for a nervous a£Fection, which often 
takes the form of acute hysteria. Without giving my 
reasons at present for so thinkings I have come to the 
conclusion that the poor girl's illness in its present form is 
superinduced by some wicked design, for she declares that 
she is haunted, and that spectres and visions keep her in sl 
constant state of terror. In most cases this might be 
taken as a sign of insanity, but I am convinced it is not 
so in this instance. My patient is a victim of a cruel and 
wicked design.' 

* With what purpose in view ? ' asked Trill. 

* In the event of the girl's death before she is twenty- 
one, the property to which she is heiress will pass to 

* Is her life in danger ? ' 

* Unquestionably so, for she cannot long bear up against 
the strain, and may even be driven to laying violent 
hands on herself in order to put an end to the misery she 
now endures.' 

' What is the young lady's name ? ' 



^ Edith Constance Stanmore. She is a descendant of 
an old and honoured femily. The Stanmores have distin- 
guished themselves in the professions as well as in the army 
and navy. Miss Edith's father was a General Stanmore, 
and her mother was the renowned beauty, Lady Hester 
Morgan. The Morgans were a Welsh family, even more 
ancient than the Stanmores.' 

* This is very interesting,' remarked Trill ; * but may I 
ask if you suspect the aunt of having designs on the girl's 
life ? ' 

The visitor looked troubled by the question, and 
hesitated before answering. 

* Frankly I do,' he answered at last. ^ Of course, you 
will respect the confidence I repose in you. The aunt is 
a Mrs. Catherine Staffler, the widow of a captain in the 
merchant service, who was drowned at sea. The lady was, 
I believe, at one time, on the stage, though her father was 
a clergyman. She has one son, about four-and-twenty, and 
a daughter about the same age as Miss Stanmore. In the 
event of the niece's death, Mrs. Staffier would inherit the 

*That suggests a very strong motive, of course, for 
getting the girl out of the way,' said Trill. ^But now 
tell me, Dr. Green, what are your grounds for taking so 
serious a view of the situation as to suppose that this lady 
has designs on your patient's life ? ' 

*I am aware it is a serious view,' replied the doctor 
thoughtfully, * but without going into details you may safely 
accept my assurance that unless I had had good reasons for 
my suspicions I should not have made a special journey to 
see you. The case is not an ordinary one, and does not 
yield to the treatment usually adopted. Last year I 
ordered her abroad, and she and her aunt and cousins 
travelled through Switzerland. At first Miss Stanmore 
greatly improved, but tovrards the end of the tour, and 
while they were all staying in a very out-of-the-way place in 
the mountains, she was nearly frightened into madness by a 
visitation, which was not a matter of imagination on her 



part, and from what she has told me I am sure it was a 
cruel trick that was played upon her, though she does not 
think so. She had to be brought home by slow stages ; 
and when she arrived her nerves seemed to be utterly 
shattered, and since then she has been a prey to torturing 
terror, which, I am convinced, will have a disastrous ending 
before long. The difficulty, then, would be to prove guilty 
design on the part of anyone. Whereas now, if my sus- 
picions can be proved to be well founded, we can save the 
unhappy girl's life by removing her from the sphere of 
bane^l influence which is being exercised over her.' 

* Yes ; I see it in that light,' answered Trill j ^ but I 
agree with you that the matter is a difficult and delicate one. 
Should it leak out that you suspect Mrs. Staffler of having 
designs on her niece's life, and you fail to justify yourself, it 
would be a serious matter for you.' 

^ It would indeed. It would practically mean pro- 
fessional ruin, for Mrs. Staffler has great influence in the 
neighbourhood, and is a spiteful and vindictive woman. 
But do you think, Mr. Trill, that I look like a man who is 
likely to endanger his professional reputation by so serious 
a suggestion unless I felt convinced I had good grounds 
for it?' 

* No, I can't say that you do,' answered Trill. 
^Physically, Miss Stanmore has always been a strong 

girl,' continued the doctor, ^ for I have known her from 
her childhood. It was soon after her mother's death 
three years ago, and on her declining resolutely to marry 
her cousin, George Staffler, that she first betrayed symptoms 
of nervous terror. I was not called in for some time 
after that, and from the first I felt puzzled about the case, 
but it is only recently I have begun to suspect the cause.' 

With the quick decision characteristic of him. Trill 
told his visitor that he was willing to go down to Dorchester 
and inquire into the matter, whereupon Dr. Green, who 
was profuse in his thanks, said : 

* Then there is one little detail which will have to be 
arranged. I think I am justified in describing what I am 



going to suggest as a pious fraud. I consider it of the 
highest importance that you should see and question Miss 
Stanmore yourself. But Mrs. Staffler is lynx-eyed, and if 
she is guilty of the wicked designs I lay to her charge she 
would take means to frustrate any attempt to checkmate. 
You see that, don't you ? ' 
' I do.' 

* Very well then ; the stratagem I suggest is this — you 
shall impersonate for the time being a London consulting 
physician. I told Mrs. Staffler a few days ago that I was 
so puzzled about the case that I should like to call in the' 
services of a London specialist. Of course she readily 
consented, for in her cunning she is all anxiety to create a 
belief that she is deeply concerned about her niece. She 
knows that if she aroused suspicion it would be fatal to her 
plans and involve her in serious consequences.' 

* She has no doubt, then, about your bona fide%y doctor ? * 

* None whatever.' 

* Well, the only difficulty I see about the matter,* 
continued Trill, * is the rdle of physician you wish me to 

* The end surely justifies the means,' urged the doctor 
strenuously. *If a cruel and diabolical murder is being 
committed, any plan, surely, is pardonable that is calculated 
to save the victim.' 

* I admit the cogency of your argument, and in three 
days from now will meet you at your residence in Dor- 

Dr. Green seemed greatly relieved as he shook Trill's 
hand with an indication of deep gratitude, and took his 

In accordance with the arrangement, Vincent Trill 
found himself at the end of three days in the quaint old town 
of Dorchester, and the guest of Dr. Green. In order to 
keep up the character he had undertaken to assume he had 
for the nonce donned a beard and moustache, and had 
clothed himself in the conventional frock-coat. The next 
morning, Mrs. Staffler having been previously notified of 


their coming, he and Dr. Green drove in the latter's carriage 
to the Grange, which, from its antiquity, would have 
delighted the heart of the antiquary, while its magnificent 
situation and picturesque surroundings would have sent an 
artist into ecstasies. It was an irregular, rambling, red- 
brick building, ivy-covered for the most part, with oriel 
windows, a deeply recessed entrance porch, and fifteenth- 
century chimney stacks. It stood on an artificial mound, 
that sloped away on all sides like the glacis of a fortification ; 
and there yrere indications that at some period a moat had 
surrounded it. In front, and reached by a massive flight of 
steps with massive stone balustrades from the main entrance, 
was a lawn or bowling green, so level and smooth and green 
that it could only have been brought to that state of per- 
fection by generations of rolling and cutting. On all sides 
stretched away well-wooded grounds, intersected with paths 
and alleys, and shaded by hoary beech and oak trees. The 
views over the country, which embraced watered valleys and 
rolling downs, were of the most extended kind, and com- 
prised all the features which go to make up a perfect 
panorama. An old sun-dial on the terrace marked the hour 
of day, and a very fine specimen of a peacock strutted on 
the lawn in all the pride and glory of his unfolded feathers. 
The place was as peaceful and dreamy as one could have 
desired, and its beauty was the beauty of old time, when the 
struggle for existence was not so keen as it is now. It was 
difficult to associate this place with the dark shadow of 
crime. It was so peaceful, so beautiful, so perfect in all its 
details of picturesqueness. The air that circulated about 
it was the unpolluted air of heaven ; the birds that sang in 
the trees trilled songs of country freedom, of the liberty of 
the wild woods. 

The two gentlemen were received by Mrs. Staffler in 
the drawing-room, quaintly furnished in keeping with the 
character of the place, and redolent of the bunches of 
flowers that stood in vases in various corners. The lady 
was a tall, austere-looking woman, with a disagreeably stiff 
manner, and a cutting kind of assumed politeness, which 


suggested that she had the most exalted notions of her own 
importance. These were the outward signs of the woman. 
Her fece indicated something of her mind. The most 
noticeable features were the eyes and mouth. The former 
were steely-grey, deep-set, with a furtive expression ; the 
mouth accorded with the eyes, the lips were thin, the chin 
retreated and angular. 

From the first moment of meeting her Trill was un- 
favourably impressed. He was too good a student of 
physiognomy to attribute a soft and tender nature to a 
woman with eyes of that colour, and with those thin lips 
and retreating chin. She moved with a studied grace, 
and there was a certain rhythm in the clink of the silver 
ornaments on her chatelaine, and in the rustle of her silken 
gown. She was clearly a woman of decision and prompt- 
ness. She wasted no time in unnecessarily trifling with 
words and formalities. She dwelt on the * dreadful suffer- 
ings ' of her ^ darling ' niece, and displayed an admirable 
assumption of heart-rending distress, carrying her lace hand- 
kerchief with delicate grace to her eyes to wipe away 
imaginary tears. She was possessed of all the subtle art, 
and knew how to exercise it, of the consummate actress. 

This preliminary interview over, Dr. Green and his 
companion were conducted upstairs to a charming room 
most tastefully furnished, and commanding from its oriel 
window a wide sweep of hill and dale. Two young ladies — 
who were occupying themselves with some fancy needle- 
work — rose as the men entered. One was Miss Beryl 
StafHer, her companion Edith Constance Stanmore. After 
a few words of greeting with the doctor, Miss Staffler left 
the room, and Dr. Green then presented his patient to Trill. 
She was a well-formed, pretty girl, with a quantity of soft 
fair hair ; but her face was almost a study in horror. Intense 
nervous agitation marked every feature and shone pathetically 
from her eyes, giving them that strange indefinable appear- 
ance peculiar to a hunted animal. She grasped Dr. Green's 
extended hand with ill-concealed eagerness, as if in him 
all her mortal hopes were centred ; and when he remarked 


that he had brought a medical confrire to talk with her, she 
turned with no less eagerness to Trill, and pleaded to him 
with the dun)b eloquence of her eyes to relieve her from the 
situation of horror in which she was placed. Under Green's 
promptings she readily answered Trill's well-framed ques- 
tions, and declared that she was haunted. Mysterious sounds 
followed her about the house, and at night apparitions ap- 
peared in her room, seeming to come from a massive ebony 
cabinet. But the most terrifying of all was a skeleton hand 
that glowed with a strange light, and floated above her bed, 
seeming as if every moment it would descend and crush hen 
She always left a lamp burning, but after being asleep she 
would be suddenly awakened to find the room in darkness, 
and that awful hand floating about. She had given up 
complaining to her aunt and cousins, because they laughed 
at her, and said it was all a morbid, nervous fancy. Even 
the servants of the household took the same view, for they 
had been warned by Mrs. StaflSer not to encourage ^ her 
absurd ideas.' She had occasionally got her cousin Beryl to 
sleep with her, and though the hand had appeared Beryl 
declared she could never see it. Her aunt had also re- 
peatedly slept with her and made the same statement. So 
that in the face of these ^ independent witnesses ' the poor 
girl found no one save Dr. Green who accorded her any 
sympathy. She had been told she was * morbid, stupid, silly, 
and fanciful.' The consequence was she bore her sufferings 
in silence, but they were becoming unendurable, and she felt 
she must either go mad or do something desperate. 

Trill asked to be allowed to see the bedroom, which 
adjoined the boudoir, and was reached by a communicating 
doorway screened with a velvet curtain. It was an unusually 
large room, lighted by two lattice-paned windows on one 
side, and by a deep oriel at the end. The furniture was all 
of the most massive description, and in a recess in the wall 
stood an extraordinary ebony cabinet of greatsize and strength. 
It was magnificently carved, and the top was surmounted by 
grotesquely moulded figures. Miss Stanmore said that she 
used one half of the cabinet^ which was a veritable room in 



itself, for her dresses, and her aunt had the other half. This 
remarkable piece of furniture was early fifteenth-century 
work. It was said to have once stood in Corfe Castle, and 
originally to have been brought from Germany. 1 

Trill spoke a few hurried words to Dr. Green, who 
conducted Miss Stanmore back to the boudoir, while Trill 
proceeded to make an examination of the room, and particu- 
larly of the cabinet. He found it was divided into three j 
compartments. Two of these compartments he was able to 
look into, as the doors were not locked. The third, however, 
was barred against his inspection. Having completed his 
investigations, he returned to the boudoir. 

^That cabinet is a very handsome and extraordinary 
piece of furniture,' he remarked to Miss Stanmore. 

* Yes, but I hate the very sight of it.* 
^ I suppose the end compartment is the one utilised by 

your aunt ? * 

* Yes.' 
^ I notice that it is locked ! ' 

* Oh, yes. I believe aunt keeps a lot of her family relics 
and a quantity of old plate there. Indeed, I don't know 
what there is inside of it. She always has the key. Nor 
have I any desire to know.' 

* Now tell me. Miss Stanmore,' asked Trill, ^ are you 
perfectly convinced in your own mind that the skeleton . | 
hand and the other things you have seen have an existence 
outside of your own imagination ? ' 

*Oh, indeed, indeed they have,' exclaimed the poor 

* And you firmly believe they are supernatural visita- 1 
tions ? * i 

^ I have no doubt about it, sir.' I| 

^ Dr. Green tells me you travelled abroad last summer.' 

* Had you any visitations then f * \ 

* Yes. We were staying at a lonely mountain hotel, ] 
and one night a frightful face appearea at my window. 

And another night the skeleton hand came through the 



window, which I found open, although I closed it on 

*I am now going to ask you a very blunt question, 
Miss Stanmore. Has it ever occurred to you that, after all, 
you are only the victim of some cruel trickery ? ' 

* Oh, sir, how can you suggest such a thing ? * cried the 
girl, as the tears coursed down her pallid cheeks. * Who 
would be so cruel as to try and drive me mad in this way ? 
My aunt and cousins are kindness itself/ 

Trill questioned no further, but expressing a firm con- 
viction that the peculiar nervous affection she suffered from 
would yield to treatment, and that in a very short time she 
would cease to be troubled with the visitations, he and 
Dr. Green took their leave. 

In the hall below they were met by Mrs. Stafiler, who 
eagerly inquired of Trill, who had been introduced as 
Dr. Randall, what he thought of the case. 

* Your niece's illness arises from an extraordinary and 
acute morbidity,' he answered, ^ which you will do well 
not to encourage. Her nerves at present are very much 
unstrung ; she wants bracing up, and I am going to 
suggest a course of treatment which, I think, will be 

A peculiarly cold and cruel smile spread itself over Mrs. 
Stafiler 's face, and she fixed her eyes for a moment or two 
on Dr. Green, as she made reply : 

* You may depend upon it. Dr. Randall, that I shall not 
encourage my niece's morbid and stupid notions. I have 
always told Dr. Green that instead of sympathising with 
the girl he should try and laugh her out of her nonsensical 
ideas. I don't know if my niece has told you what shape 
these ideas take, but one is that a skeleton hand floats about 
over her at night. Anything more ridiculous could not be 
imagined. My daughter, whenever she has slept with her 
cousin, has quite failed to see the hand, although Edith 
declared she could see it.' 

During this little interview Trill's seemingly dreamy eyes 
were searching the lady through and through, but she was 


unaware of it, and he came to the conclusion that she 
could lie like truth. 

When the two men had left the house and were driving 
back to the town, Trill observed to his companion : 

* The conclusion you have come to, doctor, is an accu- 
rate one, and that poor girl is a victim, and Mrs. StafRer 
is as dangerous as a tigress.' 

* Ah, I am glad I have convinced you,' exclaimed the 
doctor joyfully. * The thing to do now is to checkmate 
this horrible and wicked scheme, and convince Edith that 
she is the victim of her aunt. How do you propose to 
do that ? ' 

* At the present moment I cannot say,* answered Trill 
thoughtfully. * You must let me dwell upon the matter for 
a little while.' 

It was not until the following morning during the 
breakfast hour that Trill gave evidence of his having come 
to some conclusion. 

* I think you said Mrs. StafHer has a son ? ' he asked. 

* Oh, yes.' 

* Is he at home with his mother ? * 

* Yes, and I haven't a doubt is the prime mover in the 

* What sort of a young man is he ? * 

' A cub, I call him ; a fashionable puppy, with inordi- 
nate self-love. I think I told you he wanted to marry his 
cousin, but she wouldn't have him.' 

* What does he do for a living ? ' 

* Nothing. Sponges on his mother.' 

* Do you think you could bring me and him together f * 

* Nothing easier. Nearly every night he comes into the 
town and spends some time in the billiard-room of the Red 
Lion Hotel.* 

Acting on this information Trill began to frequent 
the Red Lion, not in his assumed character of Dr. Ran- 
dall, but in his own proper person, though he did not 
allow it to transpire that he was Vincent Trill. He had 
very soon scraped acquaintance with George StafHer, and 


found him all that Dr. Green had described him. In a 
week's time he and Trill had become quite intimate. The 
cause of the intimacy was billiards, and an incessant flattery 
of the young man's vanity. Trill was known to George 
as * Mr. Lionel Findlay,* a Scottish gentleman of means, who 
was on a visit to that part of England for the first time. As 
Mr. Lionel Findlay was liberal with his money, talked 
glibly of his * possessions ' in the North, and fooled and 
flattered George Staffler to the top of his bent, the young 
man fell easily into the snare that was spread for him. One 
evening he and his * Scotch friend ' had a snug little tite^d-tite 
dinner at the Red Lion, and shallow-pated George was 
easily, very easily indeed, tempted to look on the wine that 
was red, to say nothing about that which was white. And 
when all this was topped up with liqueurs and sundry 
glasses of the native wine of bonnie Scotland, made hot and 
sweet, George Staffler, when midnight was striking, was 
utterly incapable of distinguishing the north from the south. 
Mine host of the Red Lion wished him to go to bed there, 
but the young man, prompted by his * Scotch friend,' de- 
clined ; and the Scotch friend, who had only made a pre- 
tence of imbibing, was good enough to volunteer to drive 
him home. George always came into town in his own dog- 
cart. So the cob was put to, and the tempter and the 
tempted were soon bowling along the star-lit country roads 
towards the Grange. 

On arrival George had to be lifted out of the trap by the 
groom, although he was capable of insisting on his Scotch 
friend * coming in for a shake-down,' an invitation the 
friend was not slow to accept. 

The household had retired, and all was silent. With 
some trouble Trill guided the erratic footsteps of George 
to his bedroom, and then adjourned to an adjoining spare 
room indicated by George. An hour later Trill issued 
forth and stealthily made a survey of the house so far as the 
circumstances of the hour permitted, and that done he slept 
the sleep of the just, knowing that he had acquired know- 
ledge that might help him materially in his task. 


The following morning at a very late breakfast he was 
introduced to the family by George, who, to use his own 
expressive phrase, was suffering from a * swelled head.' But 
he spoke very glowingly of his new-found friend ; and a little 
later privately hinted to his mother that it might be worth 
while to cultivate the acquaintance of Mr. Lionel Findlay, 
who would possibly prove a good catch for Beryl. Mr. Findlay 
was a fascinating man, and was pressed to stay for some days 
if he thought he could endure the monotony and humdrum 
life of a country house. 

Nothing would give him greater delight, he asseverated, 
and in the course of the morning he repaired to the Red 
Lion to pay a little score he owed. He also took the oppor- 
tunity to call on Dr. Green and acquaint that gentleman 
with the state of matters, and enlist his co-operation in 
carrying out the little plan he had formulated. Accord- 
ing to this the doctor was to put in an appearance at the 
Grange and inform Edith that steps were being taken to 
render her life more bearable, and urging her to sleep 
for the next few nights in her boudoir, but to be very 
careful not to let any soul in the house know that she 
was doing so. She was to carefully lock the communi- 
cating door between the bedroom and the boudoir, and 
not to be alarmed if she was awakened in the night by 
strange noises in the bedroom. 

Dr. Green had no difficulty in putting all this before 
the girl in such a way that, not only was her interest 
aroused, but she was inspired with new-born hope, and 
pledged herself to implicitly obey the instructions. 

It did not take Mr. Lionel Findlay from Scotland 
long to ingratiate himself very firmly in the favour, not 
only of Mrs. StafHer, but her daughter, and, owing to 
what Dr. Green had said, Edith Stanmore accorded him 
a welcome. Mrs. Staffler — who was a woman of the 
world — displayed more than the orthodox amount of 
feminine curiosity with regard to this visitor, who had 
come into the house in such an unusual manner. But 
tie jLltlcty cf htr ratuie was no match for the practised 


skill of her guest, who, with an art infinitely superior to 
her own, begot her entire confidence, so that she began 
to really think that if Beryl played her cards well she 
might win a big stake. George StafHer, too, whose 
means were very limited, and nothing near equal to the 
strain his extravagances imposed upon them, deemed it 
likely enough that his Scotch firiend would ultimately turn 
out to be * a godsend.' Of course, if Edith Stanmore died 
— ^as George StaiHer in his heart hoped she would — his 
mother would become a rich woman, and he would benefit 
through his mother. But the *if' interposed itself. 
Edith might pass to another world soon, or, through the 
meddlesome interference of *old Doctor Green,' she 
might linger for a long time. In that case there were 
possibilities of Mr. Lionel Findlay turning out a useful 
find, for George's exchequer would have to be replenished 
from some source or other. 

At this period the Grange could, not inaptly, have 
been described as a house of great expectations. George 
Staffier left nothing undone to impress the ^ chap frae the 
North ' with the idea that he was thoroughly welcome, 
while Beryl donned her prettiest frocks and was at un- 
usual pains to dress her flufify hair in the most fascinating 
way. Even Mrs. Staffler sometimes, when she glanced at 
the imperturbable and sphinx-like face of her guest, 
thought, despite her excess of years over his, that if she 
gave her mind to it she might win him to herself, for 
though the world would be not unlikely to declare he 
was too young for her, it would almost as certainly say 
he was too old for Beryl. As for poor, neglected, suf- 
fering Edith Stanmore, she regarded the dreamy-eyed 
stranger somewhat in the same way that a shipwrecked 
mariner floating on a raft in mid-ocean regards the dis- 
tant sail. It might be his salvation, or it might not. Mr. 
Lionel Findlay had been at the Grange some eight or 
nine days, during which he had seen many things and 
learnt much despite his seeming lethargic nature. Then 
one night a strange thing happened. As it chanced, by 


mere accident it was an exceedingly stormy night. Chill 
October had well advanced, and autumn gales had been 
bellowing over the land, hurling in showers the decaying 
leaves from the trees, and chafing the sea into riotous 
madness. On the night in question a particularly furious 
gale was sweeping with terrific force over that vast extent 
of open country, and hurling itself with fury against the 
Grange ; it seemed bent on levelling it to the ground. 
But the builders had built well, and the old place had 
weathered harder storms than that. Nevertheless, the 
thick walls vibrated at times with the strain put upon 
them, and the windows rattled ominously in their frames, 
while long strips of the mantling ivy were torn oflF and 
dashed to the ground. At intervals the wind was accom- 
panied by a storm of hail that lashed the house until 
those within felt as if the place were being bombarded 
with small shot. 

To use a homely phrase, it was a night which one 
would not have cared to turn a dog out in, and the comfort 
and cheerfulness of the fireside were enhanced, and the 
closely drawn curtains and shaded lamps made the rooms 
seem unusually cosy. But under the plea that he was 
suffering from a bilious headache the visitor at the Grange 
had repaired to his sleeping chamber by ten o'clock, and 
others were not slow to follow, for bed had increased attrac- 
tions on such a cold and stormy night. 

The great and solemnly ticking clock in the hall had 
slowly and with ponderous strokes told off midnight, and 
the gale at this time was at its height. No more fitting 
night could have been imagined for ghosts and spectres to 
render themselves disagreeable ; and in Miss Stanmore's 
bedchamber the skeleton hand was having a little outing 
on its own account, when suddenly a very fleshly hand 
indeed seized it with a grasp that was not to be denied. 
Then there was a rush by someone for the mysterious 
black cabinet, the door was torn open, and then the same 
fleshly hand gripped a female skirt, and held on like grim 
death until the holder succeeded in striking a wax vesta and 


revealing the presence in the cabinet of Mrs. Staffler, who, 
to her horror, beheld Mr. Lionel Findlay. It was an 
embarrassing situation for her, and with a suppressed cry 
she jerked herself free and disappeared through an opening 
in the wall at the back of the cabinet. 

Slowly the wild night waned, and the light of the 
wintry morn asserted itself. The * guest from Scotland ' was 
down betimes and had to breakfast alone. George never 
rose early, and on this morning neither Beryl nor her 
mother put in an appearance. One of the first things 
Trill did was to secredy despatch the groom to the town 
with a note to Dr. Green asking him to come to the 
Grange without a moment's loss of time. On receipt of 
the message, the doctor, who was in the act of starting on 
his rounds, diverted his course and drove Grangewards. 
As soon as he arrived Trill briefly related his experiences, 
and it was determined to call a family meeting, and a 
servant was despatched to Miss StafBer, her mother, George 
StafHer, and Miss Stanmore to attend in the drawing-room 
immediately. All obeyed that summons except Mrs. 
StafHer. Dr. Green acted as spokesman. He began by 
telling Miss Stanmore that he could at last promise her a 
speedy relief from her sufferings, as he had been fortunate 
enough to discover the cause of her illness, and the cause 
being known the remedy was simple in this case. 

* As I suspected,' he continued, * your aunt and cousins 
have been guilty of a series of cruel and horrible tricks in 
order to frighten you out of your senses and drive you into 
a premature grave.' At this assertion — ^which was like a 
thunderbolt to the wretched cousins, who had not been 
forearmed by their mother — up rose George with an 
assumption of injured innocence and righteous indigna- 
tion, and denounced the accusation as ^ an iniquitous and 
monstrous fabrication.' 

* It strikes me that the only fabrication in the matter is 
this,' remarked the Scotch guest, as he produced from 
under his coat an ingeniously constructed skeleton hand. 
Beryl, with a little moan, swooned, while Edith was 


dumb with amazement, and George Staffler glanced un- 
easily about the floor as if hoping it would open and 
swallow him. But suddenly feeling the necessity of pulling 
himself together, he exclaimed : 

* What does this farce mean ? ' 

* It means,' answered Dr. Green, * that your wicked 
and abominable conspiracy has been unmasked, thanks to the 
skill and cleverness of this gentleman, who, known to you 
as " Lionel Findlay," is none other than Vincent Trill, the 
renowned detective.' 

This was the final bomb into the enemy's camp. No 
further resistance was made, and while Dr. Green applied 
restoratives to Beryl, Trill led Miss Stanmore from the room. 
She was so overcome that she could do nothing but weep for 
some time. Ultimately Trill explained to her the discoveries 
he had made. One end of the black cabinet communi- 
cated, by means of an opening in the wall at the back, with 
a room used by her aunt, and by this means all the shameful 
tricks were carried on. The skeleton hand, rubbed with 
phosphorus, was attached to the end of a piece of stout 
wire, and thus made to float about the room. Edith's 
relief was immense. She was overjoyed, and expressed 
wonderment that she could ever have been so foolish as to 
be frightened by bogeys. She expressed great anxiety, how- 
ever, that scandal should be avoided, and Dr. Green con- 
sented to keep the matter secret, providing that George 
Staffler and Beryl left the Grange for ever, and Mrs. 
Staffler made a full confession of her guilt and gave a solemn 
pledge to do her duty to her ward. Mrs. Staffler, however, 
hadn't the moral courage to face the victim of her abomin- 
able machination, and in a few days she and her son and 
daughter had relieved the Grange of their presence. The 
servants and neighbours, of course, were very much asto- 
nished, but they were left to conjecture the cause, though 
in time more or less accurate versions of the story leaked out. 

Edith Stanmore rapidly recovered her wonted health and 
spirits, under the care and kindness of a maiden sister of Dr. 
Green, who went to preside at the Grange for a time. 


In the course of the summer following that eventful 
winter, Miss Stanmore went abroad for a change, the doctor 
taking his annual holiday at the same time, and accompany- 
ing her with his sister. During this tour Edith made the 
acquaintance of a gentleman on board a steamer while going 
from Malta to Gibraltar, and a mutual liking sprang up. He 
turned out to be the son of the Hon. Giffi>rd Claypole, a 
distinguished and wealthy American lawyer. The mutual 
liking ripened into mutual love, and in the fulness of time 
Miss Edith Stanmore, the heiress and owner of the Grange, 
Dorchester, became Mrs. Claypole. 



Since the events occurred which I am now about to relate, 
there have been several garbled versions of the case, but all 
more or less inaccurate, and not one giving the main facts. 
This is accounted for by the pains that were taken at the 
time to hush the matter up. The parties interested were 
concerned in this, for reasons that will be made clear as the 
narrative proceeds. 

Mr. Joyce Castello, who figures prominently in the 
story, had the good fortune to be born with a silver spoon 
in his mouth, as the saying is. I am aware that an argu* 
ment might be used with a view to show that to be born 
rich is not an unmixed blessing ; but whatever incon- 
veniences riches may have, I think it is incontestable that 
they are largely outweighed by the advantages which the 
possession of practically unlimited wealth gives to a man. 
At any rate, the world is full of people who would gladly 
run the risk of all the inconveniences if they could only get 

Joyce Castello was the son of the well-known banker, 
head of the firm of Castello, Barnett and Gibbs, whose 
financial transactions often outrivalled those of the Roth- 
schilds. Joyce, being an only son, was made much of from 
the very first moment of his entrance into the world, and 
throughout his youth and early manhood he had the handling 
of so much money that he must have become pretty sick of 


it. At least one would think so. He was educated mainly 
abroad, but spent two years at Oxford, though he did not 
distinguish himself to any extent except it was for extrava- 
gance. This extravagance, however, did not lead him into 
the grooves commonly followed by young gentlemen at 
college, whose * governors' have the reputed wealth of 
Croesus. But even without this reputation, * governors * are 
often hit pretty hard by their affectionate offspring who are 
qualifying for men of learning. Mr. Joyce Castello's ex- 
travagance took the form principally of laying up art 
treasure. Pictures he was fond of, and statuary he was fond 
of, but, above all, he had a weakness for rare jewels and 
precious stones, and before he was twenty-one he had a 
collection that was positively unique. It will be admitted 
that these tastes were more commendable than those common 
to many young men at college, and which generally incline 
to ardent spirits, choice cigars, and horse-racing. 

When he was twenty-two, Joyce started with a roving 
commission to see the world, and for his travelling com- 
panion he had the Hon. Frederick Fitzsimmons, a man 
older than himself, and with tastes that could not altogether 
be classed as aesthetic, but he was of aristocratic lineage, 
with a small income, though good prospects. He had been 
at Oxford with Castello, and though the two men were of 
divergent tastes, a feeling of strong friendship sprang up 
between them. A friendship of this kind often springs up 
between men of totally different natures, and it is as curious 
as it is interesting that it should be so. Fitzsimmons was 
exceedingly good-looking, very vain of his personal appear- 
ance, and proud of his accomplishments in the art of ^ lady- 
killing.' As he was a proficient linguist he was enabled to 
exercise this art in almost any country. Mr. Castello, on 
the contrary, was a shy and reserved young man, and 
generally displayed an awkward bashfiilness when in the 
presence of ladies for the first time. The young men were 
thus, to some extent, a foil to each other. It may be men- 
tioned that Fitzsimmons was dependent for the expenses of 
the journey on his friend, for his own resources were of far 



too restricted a character to allow him to indulge his taste 
for travel too freely. 

When Mr. Castello returned home, after an extended 
tour that had taken him wholly through Europe, largely 
through Asia, partly through America, and on the fringe 
of Africa, he was the possessor of an amount of art wealth 
that was almost fabulous, for he had never lost an oppor- 
tunity of indulging his tastes wherever and whenever he 
could. Amongst his treasures was a string of famous pearls 
that were destined to become known for evermore as the 

* Castello pearls.* The story of these pearls is not a little 
curious, even before they came into the possession of Mr. 
Joyce Castello. It is said that at one time they enclasped 
the white neck of the beautiful Marie Antoinette. Whether 
that was so or not, it is certain they were the property of the 
beautiful but infamous Duchess de Montressor. The legend 
runs that a young nobleman ruined himself and all his 
friends, besides compromising his honour, in order to present 
these pearls to the Duchess. But when once she had gained 
possession of them she threw her admirer overboard, and he 
blew his brains out. As is well known, however, he was 
only one of the many victims of the Duchess. Her own 
end was, as might have been expected, a miserable one. 
She practically died in a garret in a low quarter of Paris. 
But long before that event the pearls had found their way 
to the treasury chest of a miserly Jew known satirically as 

* Croquin the Hungered.' It is pretty certain that he never 
paid much for them. Ultimately he sold them for an 

enormous sum to the unfortunate young Prince Z , 

who presented them to the charming young wife of a 
foreign ambassador, who ultimately divorced her. What 
vicissitudes the pearls passed through after that it is difficult 
to say, but we next hear of them as being in the celebrated 
collection of gems of Count Rudiani of Florence. From 
this collection they mysteriously disappeared, were traced to 
India, brought back, and ultimately placed in a museum in 
Milan. The contents of this museum were dispersed in 
time, and the noble string of pearls was purchased by the 


then reigning Sultan of Turkey, but he, so it is said, pawned 
them later on, and when next they turned up in public they 
were sold in Rome at a sale of art treasures. 

It was in Rome that Mr. Castello first heard of the 
pearls. He and his friend while on their way from the 
East landed at Brindisi, and thence travelled to Rome, where 
they intended to pass the winter. At this period the pearls 
were in the possession of a decayed Italian family, proud but 
poor, like so many of their country people. By this time 
Castello had become known as a coUector with seemingly 
inexhaustible wealth at his disposal, and his presence in the 
Holy City probably proved too strong a temptation to the 
family, whose needs overcame their pride. Anyway, the 
end of it was Mr. Joyce Castello became the owner of the 
pearls by transferring the substantial sum of fifty thousand 
pounds from his own account to that of the family in 
question. Castello was very proud of his possession, and for 
security sake he lodged the string of pearls with the Bank 
of Rome during his stay in the city. When he left Rome 
in the spring for London he carried the pearls with him. 
They were placed in a small leather case carried in a hand- 
bag which he took into the railway carriage with him. He 
had secured the whole of the compartment of that carriage 
for the use of himself and friend, as he liked to travel in 
comfort and luxury. After a somewhat roundabout journey 
they arrived in England. They had gone from Rome to Milan, 
thence to Geneva, and so on to Paris. During the time 
they were travelling home Mr. Castello did not look to see 
if his string of costly pearls was all right. He took it for 
granted that the beautiful baubles were safe. He believed 
that he had secured them in such a way that thieves could 
not break in and steal. But he was quickly undeceived as 
soon as he touched English soil. The Hon. Frederick 
Fitzsimmons carried the precious bag on shore from the 
Channel steamer, for it was a burden that could not be 
trusted to vulgar hands. At the Custom House, during 
the usual examination, Mr. Castello produced his keys in 
order that the bag might be opened, and on turning the 


things out the cabinet or case, which was at the bottom, 
was found with the lock broken, and empty. The string of 
pearls which had cost fifty thousand pounds had disappeared, 
and search failed to reveal its presence. It was only too 
obvious that it had been stolen in transit; and stolen so 
cleverly and adroitly as to leave the owner in entire ignorance 
of his loss until he had virtually reached his home. 

Mr. Castello expressed great consternation when he 
learnt that he had been relieved of his treasure. It was not 
so much the loss of the money that concerned him. He had 
been used to large sums all his life, therefore fifty thousand — 
though it would have been considered a handsome fortune by 
many — was to him a moderate amount. But in purchasing 
that unique string of pearls he had in his mind's eye a fair 
maiden of ravishing beauty who was destined to become his 
bride ; and it was as an ornament for her ^ swan-like ' neck 
that the pearls were intended, otherwise it is doubtful if he 
would have spent so much of his fortune to acquire a 
gewgaw of the kind merely to lock up in his treasure 
cabinet for people who didn't know pearls from paste to 
stare at. 

The Hon. Fitzsimmons shared his companion's con- 
sternation, and suggested that they should return to France 
immediately and lay the whole matter before the Paris 
police. Castello objected to this course, for, as he pointed 
out, there was nothing to prove that the pearls had been 
stolen in France. They might have been abstracted in 
Italy or Switzerland. It was notorious of both countries 
that robberies from passengers' luggage were of everyday 
occurrence. No ; what Mr. Castello suggested was that they 
should go on to London and immediately secure the services 
of Vincent Trill, for the young gentleman expressed his 
determination to recover the pearls if it was possible to do so. 
Of course, Fitzsimmons fell in with his friend's suggestion, 
and an unusually urgent telegram the next morning 
brought Trill to Mr. Castello's residence. There Trill was 
made acquainted with all the foregoing particulars, and he 
was asked for his opinion. With the caution peculiar to 


him he declined to commit himself to anything very definite, 
but he said he considered the whole afrair as very peculiar, 
and, on the face of it, it seemed as if the robbery had been 
prearranged. He thought that the police of France, 
Switzerland, and Italy should at once be made acquainted 
with the robbery, and requested to try and trace the thief 
or thieves. Apart from that Trill promised to do all that in 
him lay to recover the pearls. 

* As you may imagine,' urged Mr. Castello, * I am very 
anxious to recover these pearls, for, apart from their 
historical associations, they are probably unique, and it is a 
great disappointment to me that I cannot carry out the 
intention which was in mind when I bought them. Now I 
do wish you would tell me what you think the chances of 
recovering them are ? ' 

* You see, much depends on who stole them,' Trill 
replied. ^Possibly an attempt may be made to sell the 
whole string entire, in which case detection may follow, for 
the market for such a valuable collection is necessarily 
limited, and a string of pearls of such great value could not 
be offered for sale without attracting attention. On the 
other hand, if the thief is cautious, each pearl majr ^ 
offered separately, or two or three together, and in difierent 
places. It would be relatively easier to get rid of them in 
that manner. Have you tried to form any opinion of your 
own as to how the robbery was committed ? ' 


* Nor as to the place ? ' 
*No, again.' 

* You say you stayed two days in Milan en route ?* 

* That is so.' 

* And two days in Geneva f ' 

* And during the time where was the string of pearls ? ' 
^ In the bag, I presume, and the bag was locked up in a 

large portmanteau of mine.' 

*And are you quite sure the pearls were in your 
possession after you left Rome ? ' 



* Quite sure, and for this reason. When my friend, 
Mr. Fitzsimmons, and I were seated in our compartment, 
and we had proceeded on our journey, Mr. Fitzsimmons 
asked me to let him look at the pearls, and I took the box 
from the bag and opened it for that purpose.' 

* And he handled them ? * 

* Oh, yes, and so did I. He held them up to the light, 
and after looking at them critically for some time he re- 
marked that it was difficult to imagine such seeming trifles 
being so valuable.' 

* And after that you restored them to the box ? ' 

* I did.' 

* And locked the box ? ' 

* Yes.' 

* And took charge of the key f ' 

* Yes, the key was one of a bunch which I always carry 
with me.' 

* Had you any occasion to open the box at Milan ? ' 

* Yes. I had put some bank notes in a pocket of the 
bag and wanted them.' 

* At that time was the box containing the pearls there ? ' 

* I haven't a doubt about it.' 

* And locked ? ' 

* Well — I should be disposed to say, yes.' 

* Why are you so disposed ? ' 

^ Because I think that if the case had not been locked I 
should have noticed it ; for when the bag was opened at 
Dover it was seen at once that the lid had been forced and 
the lock was broken.' 

* Therefore you don't think the pearls were stolen in 
Milan f ' 

*No, Idonotl' 

* The bag had been opened with a duplicate key ? ' 

* Yes.' 

^ It was an ordinary lock, I suppose ? ' 

* Quite ordinary.' 

^ Silt the lock of the box you said was not ? ' 

* No. It's a very peculiar box, as I will show you.' 


Here Castello retired to his room, returning in a few 
minutes with the case in his hand. It was a small, oblong, 
leather-covered case, with a leather handle to it. It was 
furnished with a lock of unusual strength and rather com- 
plicated in structure. It had been forced open with some 
small instrument, and considerable strength had been 
exerted. About the leather in front of the box were a 
number of peculiar marks. In some instances they took 
the form of short, parallel scratches, and in others they were 
indents, as though something very hard and with an angular 
face had been pressed against the leather. Trill carried 
the box to the window for the sake of the better light, and 
drawing a small magnifying glass from his pocket he 
critically examined those marks for some time, and at last 
set the box on the table without comment. 

* You didn't open the bag in Geneva, did you ? * he 

* No. I never opened it after we left Milan.* 

* So that somewhere between Milan and Geneva, or 
Geneva and Paris — 2, long journey — the robbery was com- 
mitted, and the thief knew that you had in your posses- 
sion, and in the compartment with you, or in your bedroom 
at the hotel, whichever way it was, a handbag, and that in 
the bag was a leather case containing a valuable string of 

* How could he know that ? * 

* Well, you see, he came provided with a key.' 

* Ah, just so.' 

* Now, supposing he had forced the lock of the bag he 
would have betrayed himself, for you could hardly have 
helped seeing that the bag had been forced. His cleverness 
and artfulness prevented him falling into that error, so 
he was ready with his key, and also some strong small 
instrument for forcing the lid of the jewel case. That fact 
argues that he was perfectly well aware that the case opened 
with a key. The special construction of the lock of the 
case precluded the idea of a key, unless an impression of the 
lock could have been taken.' 


* I see the whole business in a new light now/ remarked 
Mr. Castello musingly, as he played with the ends of his 

^No doubt you do ; and no doubt also you will see that, 
as the thief came provided with the necessary tools for his 
work, he must have known beforehand that you carried the 
string of pearls with you.' 

* Of course. That seems obvious now.' 

*Very well. Now, viewing the matter in the new 
light I have thrown upon it, can you recall any incident, how- 
ever trifling, which presents itself to you now as suspicious ?' 

Mr. Castello lapsed into thoughtfiilness, and bit the ends 
of his moustache while he ransacked his brains. And, 
having made a thorough search in the receptacles of his 
memory, he had to confess that nothing occurred to him. 
During the journey from Milan to Geneva he never once 
quitted the train long enough for the robbery to have been 
committed. At Geneva the bag was locked in his port- 
manteau as in Milan. When the journey was resumed the 
bag was taken from the portmanteau, which was registered 
through to Paris, and he himself carried the bag to the train. 

^ I confess,' he said, looking very puzzled, and with a 
troubled, anxious expression displaying itself on his face, 
* that I am perfectly mystified, for I don't see how it was 
possible for the pearls to be stolen en routed 

*To a clever thief who has his wits about him most 
things are possible. But now, does it not strike you that 
the thief in this instance was not only well acquainted with 
your movements, but knew a good deal about your afiairs ? ' 

^ He certainly must have known that I had the pearls 
with me,' answered Castello. 

* Of that there can be no doubt, and I only hope we 
may succeed in unearthing him. You can depend upon 
my doing my best.* 

Trill was about to take his departure when the Hon. 
Frederick Fitzsimmons was ushered in. He greeted the 
detective very cordially, and at once began to talk about the 
robbery. He had no theory to offer unless it was in an 


expression of opinion that the robbery must have been 
effected while he and his friend were staying at Milan or at 

* Which means,' remarked Trill, *that in one of the 
two hotels in which you stayed the thief managed to carry 
off the pearls.* 

* Well, yes, that is what I think.' 

*If that were so, the thief must have shadowed you 
very closely.* 

* What do you mean ? * asked Fitzsimmons. 

* Well, you can hardly suppose the robbery was a mere 
accident of chance ? * 

^ Oh, yes ; that is just what I do think.' 

^ Then you are of opinion that some ordinary hotel sneak, 
prowling round in search of any trifle he could lay his hands 
on, managed to make a haul of this little thing of fifty 
thousand pounds ? ' 

* Yes, that is what I suppose.' 

Vincent Trill smiled at the young gentleman's simpli- 
city, but did not consider it worth his while to continue the 
argument further, and at once took his leave, carrying with 
him, by permission of the owner, the leather case that had 
contained the string of pearls. 

His first step was to send information of the robbery to all 
the Continental head police quarters, with a request that a 
careful watch might be kept on certain notorious persons in 
divers places, who were known to deal largely in stolen jewels. 
Of course, in the case of pearls of such great value as those 
which had been stolen from Mr. Castello, there must 
necessarily be a very limited market for them, for only 
exceedingly wealthy people can afford to buy such costly 
baubles. But, as Trill had pointed out to Mr. Castello, it 
was not probable the string of pearls would be offered in its 
entirety, as such an act on the part of the audacious thief 
would lead to certain detection, but by separating the pearls 
and offering two or three at one place and two or three at 
another, purchasers might be found. It goes without saying 
that this segregation would very considerably lessen the 


value, because the pearls had been brought together so that 
they should all be a perfect match, and every pearl as a unit 
of the whole had its relative value. Altogether, there were 
one hundred and twenty pearls, large and small. To get 
so many perfect specimens together so as to form a 
complete necklet or head ornament was most difficult, and 
that is where the pearls, apart from their intrinsic individual 
value, were enhanced in value when aggregated. But the 
thief, whoever he was, unless an absolute fool, would make 
the sacrifice necessary if the gems were to be separated, in 
order to lessen the risk of his detection. 

About a fortnight after Trill had had that interview with 
Mr. Castello, two men sat outside the Hotel du Lion at 
Antwerp. They had a little marble-top table between them, 
on which were glasses of liqueur. Each man was smoking, 
and both were seemingly wrapped in thought, or engaged in 
contemplating the stars. It was a fine night, and warm, 
although the season was well advanced. The Hotel du 
Lion was not in a fashionable quarter, nor was it beloved of 
the hurrying tourist. 'Arry and his gal did not patronise it, 
as it was not swell enough for them. Its clientile was com- 
posed principally of tradesmen and commercial travellers 
representing small businesses. A short flight of steps and a 
central door gave access to the hotel, which, like most such 
places on the Continent, had a cheap restaurant attached. 
In front were numerous small tables, but only two or three 
of them were occupied, including the one at which the two 
men alluded to sat. Presently the men began to talk in 
undertones, and one pulled out his watch and consulted it 
after the manner of a person who was anxious and dis- 
appointed. He was a young man, well dressed, and for 
anything distinctive about him he might have been English, 
French, German, Spanish, or almost any other nationality. 
His cigar being done, he tossed the stump away, and, pulling 
out his case, helped himself to a fresh cigar, and then handed 
the case to his companion. And when they were in full 
blast once more the garpn was summoned to replenish their 
cups. They were indulging in co£Fee and cognac. Once 


more they relapsed into silence and a contemplation of the 
stars, until their reverie was interrupted by the approach of a 
third man. One of the two jumped up and greeted him 
with a cordial shake of the hand ; then introduced him to the 
second, who did not even rise from his seat, but made an 
inclination of the head in recognition of the introduction. 
The newcomer was very dark in complexion, of about forty 
years of age, well dressed, with a conspicuous display of 
jewellery — a diamond pin in his neck-scarf, rings on his 
fingers, and a massive chain crossing the rotundity of his 
person. It needed no second glance to see that the man had 
an unmistakably Jewish type of face. He took a chair at 
the table. A cigar was offered to him and accepted, and a 
third cup of coffee with a liqueur was ordered. These little 
details having been attended to, the three fell to conversation, 
which was carried on in French, always more or less ani- 
mated, but pitched in a key which would have made it very 
difficult for anyone, even if he had been sitting near by, to 
have overheard much of it, if any. However, no one was 
near, and though plenty of people were passing to and fro — 
for the street was an artery connecting two main thorough- 
fares — no one seemed to take the slightest notice of the three 
gentlemen, whose business was their own and nobody else's ; 
at least so they no doubt liked to think. 

The conversation in which they were engaged was 
earnest and long, and more cigars were smoked and more 
coffee drunk ; but at last the Israelite compared the time 
of his watch with the cathedral, whose deep-toned, heavy 
bells were tolling out eleven, and when the bells had 
finished he rose and stretched himself; and the other two 
also rose, and the three sauntered along the pavement a 
little way, then stopped for another short conversation, until 
at last the Israelite departed, having shaken the hands of the 
other two, and saluted them by raising his hat. For a few 
minutes the two men stood apparently irresolute, as though 
they could not quite make up their minds what to do, but 
at last sauntered off to another part of the town, and spent 
the rest of the evening at a cafi chantant. 


Vincent Trill had promised Mr. Castello to report to 
him as soon as possible, but nearly three weeks had elapsed 
without his giving any sign, and as Castello had got 
anxious, he dropped him a line asking him to call ; and Trill 
complied with the request the same evening, and found 
Mr. Castello and his friend the Hon. Frederick Fitzsimmons 
together. They had been passing the time away with a 
game of billiards, but ceased as soon as Trill was announced, 
and almost with one voice they exclaimed as the detective 
came into their presence : 

* Well, any news ? * 

* No,* was the curt answer. 

Mr. Castello looked glum, and remarked : 

^ Then I suppose you regard it as a hopeless case ? ' 

Trill shrugged his shoulders. 

* One should never abandon hope,* he said. * It doesn't 
do to say a case is hopeless because the first inquiries show 
no results.* 

* That's true,* put in Fitzsimmons ; * but if you haven't 
been able to get a clue after all this time, I shouldn't say 
there was much chance of my friend here seeing his string 
of pearls again.' 

* Oh, I don't know,' replied Trill a little nonchalantly. 

* One can never tell. It's the impossible, you know, that 
often happens. Sometimes a clue is got in the most unlikely 

* Yes, sometimes 5 but not often, I imagine,' said 
the Hon. Frederick, as he smiled and revealed his white 

* Well, my opinion is, it's good-bye to the pearls as far 
as I'm concerned,' Mr. Castello remarked with a sigh. 

* It's a big loss, but I must grin and bear it, I suppose.' 

As Trill did not volunteer any information, nor make 
any suggestion, nor even oflFer an opinion, that subject of 
conversation was allowed to drop, and Castello invited him 
to play a game at billiards ; and the invitation being accepted, 
the host led the way to the elegantly-appointed billiard- 
room at the top of the house, and a servant was summoned 


and ordered to furnish liquid refreshment. After an hour's 
play or thereabouts the Hon. Frederick Fitzsimmons 
wished his friend good-night and retired, having an engage- 
ment to keep, as he said. Trill and Castello went down- 
stairs to the dining-room, as Trill had told his host he 
wanted to have a word in private with him. 

* How long have you known the Hon. Frederick Fitz- 
simmons ? * asked Trill somewhat abruptly, 

* Oh, a long time.' 

* You have perfect faith in him ? ' 

* Undoubtedly I have, and I wouldn't hear anyone speak 
an ill word against him.' 

* Supposing, then, I were to tell you that he is the thief 
who stole your pearls ? ' 

* I should call you a Pardon me. I don't quite 

mean that ; but I should say you were labouring under a 

^ I am not aware that I have ever had delusions in my 
life. At least, that is my opinion. In this instance, at 
any rate, there is absolutely no delusion. The gentleman 
you have regarded as your friend — the Hon. Frederick Fitz- 
simmons — is a thief, and stole your string of pearls.' 

Mr. Castello literally reeled against a chair and sup- 
ported himself with the back of it. His face grew deathly 
pale, and he gave evidence of being in deep distress. He 
gasped out in a broken voice the one word : 

* Impossible ! ' 

* Nothing is impossible in the way of wickedness,' 
answered Trill ; * nor am I ever in the habit of making 
a distinct charge against a man until I am certain of my 

^ I — I am dumbfounded,' was all Mr. Castello could 
say, trying to recover himself, but evidently suffering 
severely from the shock. 

^ I can quite imderstand that,' said Trill. ^ A man does 
not like to suddenly discover that he has been duped and 
swindled by his seemingly best friend. But I may tell you 
now I suspected Fitzsimmons from the very first. All the 


circumstances of the case seemed to fix the guilt on him. 
When I examined the box in which the pearls had been, I 
noticed certain scratches and indents in the leather about 
the lock ; and it struck me that these marks were made by 
a diamond ring worn by the man who prised the lid open. 
Fitzsimmons wore, and still wears, a diamond ring on the 
little finger of his right hand. Then I shadowed Fitz- 
simmons and tracked him to Antwerp, where he was joined 
by another man, who came from Brussels. That man was 
Stephen Harnett, who, although a well-educated man and 
the son of a gentleman, was. convicted some years ago in 
London of being connected with a gang of forgers. He 
suffered a term of imprisonment, which would have been 
much heavier, but he was considered to have been the 
victim of evil companions. On his release he took up his 
residence in Brussels, and there is little doubt that since then 
he has made a living by acting as a medium of communi- 
cation between English thieves of the first class and the 
buyers of stolen property — mostly Jews — who are to be found 
scattered throughout Belgium and Holland. To such a 
man — one Zaccariah Zapte, a notorious rascal residing in 
Antwerp — Harnett introduced Fitzsimmons, and the three 
discussed the subject at great length one night outside the 
Hotel du Lion. The following day the Hon. Frederick 
Fitzsimmons and the Jew, Zaccariah Zapte, journeyed to 
London together, but it is certain that they could not do a 
deal, as the Jew departed without taking the pearls with him. 
There is no doubt he wanted to get them for an old 

^ And where are the pearls now ? ' gasped out Castello, 
in a voice so broken and husky that it suggested he was 

* I should say they are still in the possession of Fitz- 
simmons. He lives in chambers, and you are in the habit 
of frequently visiting him. Is that not so ? ' 

* It is.' 

* Then I suggest that to-morrow when he goes out you 
and I should go in, and, unless I am very much mistaken. 


we shall come out again with the pearls in our possession. 
In the meantime I will apply for a warrant for his arrest,' 
Castello literally sprang at Trill and seized his arm. 

* No, for Grod's sake, don't do that,' he cried. * For the 
love of Heaven, don't, don't — I knowjall his people. It will 
break his father's heart ; it will drive his mother mad.' 

^ But I cannot compound a felony.' 

* No, of course not. But I will never consent to the 
rascal being arrested. I would sooner lose the pearls first. 
He is evidently a shameless liar, an accomplished humbug, 
and deserves the heaviest of punishment ; but for the sake 
of his people I will, if I can, save him from the consequences 
of his crime.' 

* You cannot do that,' said Trill. * The law will not 
permit it.' 

* Very well,' answered Castello, suddenly recovering all 
his self-possession, and speaking with remarkable coolness. 
* I suppose you must do your duty. Meet me here to- 
morrow at twelve o'clock, and we will go to Fitzsimmons's 
chambers together. And now I will ask you to leave me, 
for I am terribly upset, and feel as if I must retire.' 

Agreeable to this request. Trill at once wished his host 
good-night and retired. He had no sooner gone than 
Castello rang the bell and summoned his valet. 

* John,' he said, * get me my top-coat 5 put on your 
own, and call a hansom cab.' 

John was a fine, stalwart young fellow, well trained and 
disciplined, and used to obeying without questioning. So 
he merely bowed, said * Yes, sir,' and retired. In the mean- 
time Castello hurried to his bedroom, unlocked a door, took 
out a small revolver, loaded it in all its chambers, and put it 
into his pocket, then descended to the hall, where John was 
waiting for him with the top-coat, and the cab was at the 
door. Twenty minutes later, Castello, followed by John, 
was mounting the stairs that led to the Hon. Frederick 
Fitzsimmons's lodgings. Late as the hour was, the Hon. 
Frederick had not retired. He was a very late bird, indeed. 
He was amazed to see Castello, and asked him what it meant. 



^It means this,* answered Castello, speaking a little 
hurriedly, but with perfect command of himself. ^ I have 
come to demand, and to enforce the demand, if needs be, 
the return of the string of pearls you so shamelessly stole 
from me. 

The Hon. Frederick suddenly went deathly pale. Then 
he tried to smile. 

^ I say,' he exclaimed, * this is a ghastly joke. Are you 
drunk or mad ? ' 

*It is not a joke,' answered Castello sternly, *nor am 
I drunk or mad. For the sake of your father and mother, 
whom I know so well, and of your family generally, I want 
to save you from the penalty of your crime. To-morrow 
a warrant will be out for your arrest. Before then you 
must be out of the country. Now, then, give me the 
pearls and go.' 

^ Fool ! You're mad ! ' cried Fitzsimmons, getting ex- 
cited and looking dangerous ; but he had met his match 
this time, for Castello drew his revolver, and with perfect 
coolness replied : 

* I have come prepared for any emergency, you will see, 
and shall not hesitate to use this weapon in self-defence. 
Moreover, my man John is in the passage, and will come 
to my assistance if necessary.' 

Fitzsimmons bit his lip, bit his nails, and stamped his 

* I am the fool,' he said between clenched teeth. * I 
played boldly, but not cleverly enough, and have lost. The 
game is in your hands. So be it. Dire necessity drove me 
to this deed, and you placed temptation in my way, and I 
could not resist it. Had you waited a few days longer, I 
should have departed for the Continent with the pearls. As 
it is I must go without them.' As he spoke he went to a 
cupboard, which he unlocked, and took therefrom a strong 
cash-box, which he also unlocked, and produced the pearls 
intact, and handed them to the lawful owner, with the 
remark, * There are the pearls. Now do what you like 
with me.' 


*I shall do nothing. The way of escape is still open. 
Go before it closes.' He took out his pocket-book and 
counted out five ten-pound notes. ^ That will help you on 
your way,' he said, * and I hope I shall never look upon your 
face again.' He spoke not a word, but turned on his heel 
and left the cowering wretch to his misery, and drove 
rapidly home with the precious pearls once more in, his 

The next day, punctual to his appointment. Trill was 
at Mr. Castello's house. Castello displayed the pearls to his 
astonished gaze, with the remark : ^ Thanks to you, I 
have recovered them, and the thief has probably left the 
country by this time.' 

Trill felt that he had been slightly outwitted, but under 
the circumstances he wasn't altogether sorry. But, as in 
duty bound, he applied for a warrant, though not until the 
following day. The Hon. Frederick Fitzsimmons, how- 
ever, had made good use of his time, and ftom that day to 
this the warrant has never been executed. Years after- 
wards a man known as Juan Matteo, but who was believed 
to be an Englishman, and who answered to the description 
of Fitzsimmons, was stabbed in a Madrid cafi by a man 
with whom he had quarrelled. 




One dav in November, many years ago, a krgc sailing 
vessel called the ^ Ocean Star ' arrived in the River Mersey 
from San Francisco, after a long and stormy passage, and as 
the tide served she was at once taken into dock, and was 
safely moored alongside the berth allotted to her, about six 
o'clock in the evening. The weather was atrocious. For 
days it had been blowing a heavy gale of wind, and on this 
particular evening the air was filled with sleet and rain, and 
the great shipping town looked as dreary and miserable as it 
is possible for any town to do. The ^ Ocean Star ' had ten 
passengers, and all these passengers hurried ashore as speedily 
as possible, with the exception of two men, one named 
Michael O'Connor, an Irishman, as the name implies, and 
the other Jake Dempster, who was well advanced in years, 
being nearer sixty than fifty, but of powerful build, and 
giving one the impression that he had led a wild and rough 
life. His hands were large and sinewy, his &ce tanned and 
scarred. He and Michael O'Connor — ^who was a young 
man — were friends. They had struck up a friendship on 
board the vessel soon after leaving San Francisco, and appa- 
rently had been very close * pals ' all the passage home. 
Although everybody belonging to the vessel cleared out as 
soon as the work was done, and only the usual watchmen 
and Custom House officers remained, Dempster and 
O'Connor expressed a wish to be allowed to spend the night 
on board, as they were both strangers to Liverpool, and in- 


tended to start for London the following day. The per- 
mission was readily granted^ and they proceeded to make 
preparations for spending a * jolly evening' after their own 
fashion, by sending on shore for a quantity of provisions, 
and more than a fair amount of liquor, including three 
bottles of champagne. There were two Custom House 
officers on board, and they were invited to join in the 
feast, an invitation which, it appeared, they readily ac- 
cepted. After the meal the party played poker, and con- 
tinued to play until long after midnight, the liquid refresh- 
ment being disposed of at intervals, and by the time it 
was consumed they were all more or less in a state of 
mental fog. 

This carouse was the prologue to the drama. Be- 
tween five and six o'clock in the morning, a Dantesque 
morning of gloom, the dock labourers began to assemble 
preparatory to commencing their work. One of their 
number, in passing along the wharf to which .the ^ Ocean 
Star ' was moored, saw something by the light of the lantern 
he carried which attracted his attention. The wharf was 
lumbered with the miscellaneous articles usually found in 
such a place ; but in one part were stacks of hides which had 
come out of the hold of a vessel moored astern of the 
* Ocean Star.' Between two of these bundles of hides, the 
labourer thought he saw a man crouching down, and on 
throwing the rays of his lantern on the spot he found he 
was not mistaken, so he called to some of his mates, and a 
nearer inspection showed that a man was huddled up 
between two bales. As he gave no response when touched, 
and made no answer when called, he was dragged out, ajid 
it was then revealed that the man was not in a position to 
respond or answer, as he was quite dead. Moreover, to the 
consternation of the labourers, his shirt front was stained 
with blood, and a more minute investigation showed there was 
a pool of blood where he had been huddled up face down- 
wards, and the hides in the immediate neighbourhood were 
splashed with blood. So it was decided not to touch the 
body any more, until one of the policemen on duty had been 


summoned. Soon the alarm spread, and, the law being well 
represented, the dead man was lifted up again and laid on his 
back on the wharf, when, by the light of numerous lanterns, 
it was found that all his clothes in front were saturated with 
blood. Already a messenger had been despatched for the 
divisional police surgeon, and when that gentleman arrived 
and had made a cursory examination, he informed the eager 
onlookers that the man had met his death by being stabbed 
in the chest, and though he would not commit himself 
positively to the statement that the wound was not self- 
inflicted, he was of opinion that it was a case of murder. 

An examination of the spot where the body was found 
led to the discovery of a knife, an ordinary sheath knife such 
as every sailor carries. It was saturated with blood, and 
from the position where it was found, the belief in suicide 
which some of the little group of onlookers entertained was 
strengthened. The knife was given into the keeping of the 
inspector of police, who had by this time^ arrived ; and the 
next thing was to identify the body. This was soon done, 
for the watchman — or a watchman,' for there were two — of 
the * Ocean Star ' had come on shore to find out what the 
commotion was about, and ht ddivered himself to this 
effect : 

* That yere*s the gent what stopped aboard the wessel.' 

* What vessel ? ' asked a chorus of voices. 

* Why, the " Hocean Star," in course,* replied the watch- 
man in a tone of contempt for the ignoramuses who did not 
know it without being told. 

Then came the query : 

* What gent ? ' 

* Well, the gent as stayed aboard. I think as he came 
'ome in the ship.' 

Following this information, so intelligently conveyed, 
inquiries were at once made on board the * Ocean Star,' with 
the result that when Michael O'Connor had been aroused 
out of a heavy sleep, he at once identified the dead man as 
his friend, Jake Dempster, but he couldn't say how Jake got 
on shore. 


It was a strange and ghastly tragedy, pregnant with 
suggestiveness of the uncertainty of human life. This un- 
fortunate man had crossed many thousands of miles of ocean, 
and braved the dangers of the deep, to meet with a sudden 
and awful death on the first night of his being in England. 
Of course a coroner's inquiry was held, and the medical 
evidence that was given made it clear that the man had not 
died by his own hand, but by the hand of another. The 
nature of the deadly knife-thrust was such that it could not 
have been self-inflicted. But if there had been any doubt 
about the wound in front, which had penetrated right into 
the heart, there was none about one in the back between 
the shoulder blades, although that wound would not have 
proved mortal. The deduction from this was that the man 
had been attacked from behind, and feeling himself stabbed 
had turned in defence, when the knife was instantly'plunged 
into his breast. The knife found fitted the wound, and 
there was nothing about the weapon to distinguish it from 
any other of its class. 

(^Necessarily all who had been on board on the fatal night 
were severely examined, and each and all convicted him and 
themselves of having indulged in a carouse until all were 
more or less under the influence of the potent liquor they 
had imbibed. The rest was a mystery. How Dempster 
got on shore, why he went on shore, and when he went, 
nobody could tell ; for the Custom House officers and 
O'Connor slept the heavy sleep of the inebriate ; and if 
the v\ratchmen did not do so, they were too muddled to con- 
cern themselves with what was passing around them. They 
stoutly maintained that they were duly vigilant, but owing 
to the bitterness of the weather they had remained under 
shelter. No charge, of coiu"se, could be preferred against 
O'Connor. He was an independent person, but the officers 
and the watchmen were severely dealt with by the proper 
authorities for neglect of duty. This did not clear up the 
mystery of the murder, however, and all inquiries on the 
part of the police and the local detectives failed to get a 
clue. Several relatives of the dead man were discovered in 


London, and from them it became known that Jake Demp- 
ster was a Yorkshireman, the son of a farmer who had been 
unsuccessful. Jake was a third son, and when he was 
eighteen he had gone to America, subsequently making his 
way to California, where he became a gold digger, and 
worked on the diggings for years. He had amassed money, 
and was returning home to enjoy himself. He had regularly 
written to his aged mother, who lived in a suburb of 
London, and sent her money, and on his arrival in Liverpool 
he had immediately despatched a telegram to her saying that 
she would see him in a day or two. But it was not to be. 
^Man proposes and God disposes,' and Jake Dempster 
landed on his native shore only to meet his death by the 
hand of a midnight assassin. 

Another circumstance brought to light at the inquest, 
and testified to by the captain and his officers, was that 
Jake Dempster during the passage home had spent his 
money most liberally, being well supplied, and he had been 
heard to say that just before leaving California he had 
sold a packet of small nuggets for upwards of a thousand 
pounds, and had converted his American money into 
English gold and notes at San Francisco. Nevertheless, 
no money was found upon his person, and none amongst 
his luggage, though there were plenty of securities and 
letters showing that he had forwarded to an English bank 
large sums of money. In his cabin was an American 
trunk ; the key was in the lock, but though the trunk was 
searched not a penny was found. What, then, had become 
of the ready money he was known to possess ? No answer 
to the question was forthcoming. Robbery seemed to have 
been the motive of the murder, but no arrest was made, 
for the most critical investigation failed to get a shred of 
legal evidence that would have justified the arrest of anyone. 
And so the days passed on, and became weeks, and the 
weeks months. The dead man mouldered in his grave ; 
the murder was forgotten by the public, and the inquiries 
of the police brought nothing further to light. Murdered 
Jake Dempster's blood cried silently for vengeance, but 


vengeance was not forthcoming. The majesty of the 
law had been defied and cheated of its due. 

It was about two years after this very remarkable crime 
in the Liverpool docks that a tragedy no less strange, but 
difiering in detail, occurred in London, and the investigation 
of it fell to the lot of Vincent Trill, with what result will 
presently be seen. 

It appeared that an eccentric old lady, reputed to be 
wealthy and miserly, lived a lonely life in a detached house 
in the neighbourhood of Hampstead. The house was her 
own, as were several others in the same district. She also 
had a large sum invested in Consols, and every quarter day 
she went down to the Bank of England, where she was 
well known, to draw her dividends. She had done this for 
a number of years, and it was her habit on these red-letter 
days to repair to an ancient restaurant of repute not iar 
from the Bank, where she regaled herself with a good 
dinner and a whole pint of sherry wine. One March day 
she went to the Bank as usual, thence to the restaurant, 
and, having consumed her dinner and her pint of sherry, she 
duly departed in most excellent health and spirits. After 
that, it seems, nobody had seen her alive who could identify 
her. For several days following that quarter day the 
tradesmen who served her with provisions went to the 
house,, but failed to get any response to the ringing of the 
bell. She kept no servants, but once a week a charwoman 
whom she had employed for many years went to clean up 
and put things right. At first the silence reigning in the 
house and the drawn blinds did not cause any alarm, but 
when the charwoman failed to obtain entrance suspicion 
was aroused, and the police were communicated with. The 
consequence was, after due consideration, an entrance into 
the house, effected by force, and then the poor old lady was 
discovered in her bedroom, partly undressed, and dead. She 
was lying in a heap on the floor, and medical examination 
revealed the fact that she had been strangled. The neck 
was terribly bruised, and the pressure marks of the mur- 
derer's fingers were unmistakable. The house had been 


ransacked. The whole place was in disorder. Drawers 
had been turned out^ cupboards searched, boxes broken 
open, beds examined, even the carpets torn up, and out of 
the considerable sum of money the lady was known to have 
received on dividend day, not a penny piece was found. 
Therefore, robbery was clearly the motive of the crime. 

This tragedy in its main features did not differ materially 
from many others of a like kind which from time to time 
through the generations had shocked the heart of a mighty 
city. Not a few of these crimes had been passed into the 
category of the ^Undiscovered,' and this latest one at 
Hampstead promised at first to rank with them. But it so 
happened that the news of the old lady's shocking death — 
by the way, she was known as Miss Sarah Thorne — brought 
forth a crowd of relatives, who appeared from all quarters, 
like a flock of vultures gathering for a feast. And from 
them, or some of them at least, it was learnt that Miss 
Thorne had, years before, quarrelled with everyone belong- 
ing to her, and had chosen to live an eccentric and lonely 
life. On one occasion, at the instance of some of the 
more eagerly greedy of these loving kin, an attempt had 
been made to prove the lady irresponsible and incapable of 
managing her own afiairs, and it was sought to have her 
le&;ally confined. But this avariciousness was defeated, for 
Miss Sarah Thorne was pronounced to be perfectly capable 
of taking care of herself and of looking after her afiairs. 
After that she was more than ever embittered against her 
relatives, and entirely disowned them. 

Now that the poor old soul was dead, however, the 
dear relatives, who shed crocodile tears with one eye, and 
searched about for the reputed miser's hoard with the other, 
were so keenly disappointed to find that all valuables had 
been carried off from the house, and that a will in the 
hands of the solicitor of the deceased gave everything to a 
nephew whom she had never seen, that they clamoured for 
vengeance on somebody, and demanded that no stone should 
be left unturned in the search for the murderer. As the 
old lady had been dead several days when her body was 


discovered, it was clear the murderer had had a long start, 
but Vincent Trill was instructed to find his trail, if possible, 
and bring him to justice. 

Trill began his work by a critical examination of the 
house, and saw sufficient to feel convinced that the murderer 
had gone forth from the scene of his crime bv a window that 
opened out on to a walled-in garden. Under the window 
outside were footprints, the footprints of a man's heavy 
boots without nails. These footsteps were traceable all 
down the garden, across a neglected rose-bed, and into a 
lane at the back that led on to the Heath. There they 
were lost. But another discovery of more importance even 
was the finding of a little silver badge, shield shape, and 
bearing the number * 27.' A morsel of chain was attached 
to the badge, which was lying on the ground immediately 
under the window. Now, it should be explained that the 
window-sill was nine feet and a half from the ground, and 
the outside wall was covered with a trellis-work, about 
which clambered a very thorny brier. There was a strong 
reason for thinking that the murderer had selected this way 
of escape as the one which best favoured his chances of not 
being seen. The front of the house faced a rather well- 
frequented thoroughfare. The back was lonely, and 
bounded by an unlighted lane. He had not made a clean 
jump from the window, but had hung on to the sill by his 
finger tips — the marks of the fingers were plainly dis- 
cernible in the green, damp dirt that spread itself over the 
stonework — then he had dropped, and in so doing his 
clothes had caught the brier and come to grief. There 
were shreds of cloth on the bush, a waistcoat button on the 
ground, together with the little silver badge and the 
attached morsel of chain. The fugitive presumably had 
been wearing that badge round his neck when he and it 
were rudely separated by the spikes of the brier tree as he 
dropped to the groimd. 

Needless to say. Trill took charge of these trifles ; the 
shreds of cloth, the waistcoat button, and the badge and 
morsel of chain. He knew the possibility of their proving 


agents whereby the criminal might be identified. His 
next step was to go to the Bank of England, but not a 
scrap of information was forthcoming there likely to be of 
any value ; but it was difierent at the restaurant. To the 
astonishment of the people who kept it, when Miss Thorne 
put in an appearance on that particular day, she was accom- 
panied by a gentleman. They were astonished, because 
never before during all the years she had used the place had 
she had anyone with her. He, too, had a sumptuous dinner 
and a pint of sherry, and topped it with two whiskies hot. 
The lady paid for the repast, taking a brand new five-pound 
note from a bundle of them which she carried in a little 
satchel attached to her belt. 

The man was described as being about forty-five years 
of age, somewhat powerfully built. He was partially bald. 
His hair and whiskers, of which he had a little patch on 
each side of his face, were reddish, plentifully mixed with 
grey. He was fairly well dressed, and might have been 
anything almost, from a stockbroker to a small shopkeeper 
or even a 'bus driver. Miss Thorne and this man left 
together, and after that it was diflScult to trace their move- 
ments. Whether she went straight to her house accom- 
panied by the man or not was not known. Trill's theory 
was that the two did go to Hampstead to her residence 
together, but whether that was so or not, it was of the 
highest importance to the inquiry that the man who dined 
at the restaurant with Miss Thorne should be discovered. 
If he were an honest and guiltless man, he would come 
forward ; and to put the matter to the test advertisements 
were inserted in most of the leading papers in the kingdom, 
but failed to produce any result. Then a description of 
the man, gathered orally from the people of the restaurant, 
was posted outside every police station in the United King- 
dom, but still there was never a sign given, and the in- 
ference was that the man had a powerful reason for 
concealing himself. 

Three months passed, and during that time Trill 
exerted all his skill to try and get on the track of the 


murderer, but failed. There wasn't a sign to guide him, 
look which way he would, and the cleverest sleuth-hound is 
at fault unless it can obtain a scent. But one day it came 
to Trill's notice that the previous evening a man under the 
influence of liquor had been arrested in the Strand for a 
gross and unprovoked assault on a woman. He had been 
taken to Bow Street, and on being searched a silver badge, 
shield shape, and bearing the figure ^ 5,' had been found on 
him, together with some papers. This was a remarkable 
coincidence, and it aroused Trill to increased efibrt. It was 
pretty evident that the badge found at Miss Thome's 
house at Hampstead and the one worn by the Bow Street 
prisoner had some connecting significance. The fellow at 
Bow Street resolutely refused to give his address, but said 
his name was David Lambert, and that he was a sailor, but 
had not been to sea for some time. He had a purse in his 
pocket containing a well-worn bank note for five pounds, 
and about six pounds in coins. His papers had no signifi- 
cance, and afforded no clue. When the fellow came before 
the magistrate the charge was fully proved against him, 
but as he ofiered the woman whom he assaulted five pounds 
as compensation, he got ofT with the light sentence of 
twenty-one days' imprisonment. 

Trill resolved never to lose sight of that man until he 
had run him to earth, and when the prisoner was released 
after serving his time Trill became his shadow, and tracked 
him to a house in a low street out of RatcliflF Highway, in 
the neighbourhood of the docks. The house was a common 
lodging-house, and was kept by a Chinaman named Ah 
Lung. The only information this Chinaman could give 
was that his lodgers came and went, and he knew nothing 
about them but that for the most part they were seafaring 
men. The man who had been imprisoned as * David 
Lambert ' was known at the lodging-house as Peter Shaw. 
He had resided there off and on nearly eighteen months, 
but sometimes had been absent for weeks together. He 
occasionally indulged in drinking bouts, and at such times 
became very quarrelsome, and, if opposed, violent. These 


outbursts^ however, were not frequent. Although Peter 
Shaw, if that was his real name, in no way answered to the 
description of the man wanted for the murder of Miss 
Thome, being very dark and burly, with no hair on his £ice, 
and marks on his head. Trill felt certain that he had at last 
struck a trail which would lead to important results, and he 
never took his eyes, so to speak, off Shaw. 

On the third day after his release from prison, and at 
about eight o'clock at night, Peter Shaw strolled into 
Whitechapel and got into an omnibus going west. He 
alighted at the Mansion House, and then got on to another 
'bus crossing London Bridge. This 'bus proceeded down 
the Boro', and Shaw got off* at the corner of Kent Street. 
From time immemorial Kent Street had borne an unenviable 
reputation, and even at the present day it is one of the most in- 
salubrious and most evil thoroughfares in the Modern Babylon. 
Its houses for the most part are old ramshackle places, and 
the tenants, men, women, and children, with few exceptions, 
are outrages on God's image. Many a dark and blood-curd- 
ling crime has been committed in Kent Street, and many a 
ruffian has been dragged from its shelter to end his miserable 
life on the gallows. The old proverb that ^ Birds of a 
feather flock together ' was never more strikingly illustrated 
than it is in Kent Street, for, remarkable as it may seem to 
those unacquainted with the peculiar clannishness of criminals, 
hither ruffianism gravitates, and men and women of the most 
repulsive type make the dens which abound in the street 
their homes, as they have so made them for generations, and 
this notwithstanding that they are fully aware that they 
are subject to the unpleasant attentions of the police. 
Many of the houses are used as cheap lodging-houses, 
and tramps and vagrant men and women come and 
go. There are blind alleys and foul-smelling passages, deeply 
recessed doorways and rotting staircases. The alleys and 
passages are tolerably well lighted now, and keen police 
supervision is exercised ; nevertheless it is impossible to get 
rid of the vermin — that is, the human vermin. The land- 
lords of the various hovels make money out of their dilapidated 


and filthy places, and, as they have vested interests, it is not 
easy to disturb them. Where leases fall in, improvements 
do take place, but necessarily the progress is only slow. 

At the period of the story, Kent Street was a region to 
be remembered when once seen. Any respectable person 
who had had the hardihood to have explored it must for a 
long time after have suffered from a sort of nightmare, and 
been haunted with the images of ghoullike men and women, 
also children who were not like children but demons. 
Indeed, it was a kind of Inferno, where the harlot, the thief, 
and the murderer herded together, and inflamed themselves 
into frenzy by the vilest of drink. And scenes were enacted 
in it that must have made the angels of Heaven weep. 

When Shaw alighted from the 'bus, he stood for some 
time at the corner of Kent Street, and prowled about as if ex- 
pecting someone. This gave Trill an opportunity to secretly 
put a policeman on his guard, and to teU him to communi- 
cate with other policemen doing duty in the neighbourhood. 
Trill took this precaution so that in the event of his having 
to summon assistance it would be forthcoming. 

If Shaw really expected to meet anyone he must have 
been disappointed, for no one spoke to him. So, presently, 
he proceeded leisurely along Kent Street, until about half- 
way down he stopped at the mouth of a passage, which was 
spanned by a single brick archway. Immediately opposite, 
or almost immediately opposite, was a street lamp, but its 
light was too feeble to illuminate the passage, which was as 
dark as Erebus. For three or four minutes Shaw stood 
glancing first one way and then another. It was pretty 
clear now that he was vigilant and cautious. Nevertheless, 
one still more vigilant and cautious than he watched him. 
That one was Vincent Trill. At length Shaw must have 
felt satisfied that all was clear, for he dived into the passage 
and was swallowed up by the darkness. Trill followed swifuy 
and silently, but his quarry was lost to him. Shaw had 
evidently disappeared up one of the two stairways which 
started in the passage and gave access to two different houses, 
one on the right and one on the left. As both these stair- 


ways were in total darkness, and no sound came from them, 
it was difficult to say which one Shaw had taken. Under 
these circumstances there was nothing for it but to wait, for 
sooner or later he would probably come forth again. Three 
hours passed. It was a long and wearying vigil, but Trill 
iaithfuUy kept it, and was rewarded at last by observing 
Shaw emerge from the gloom of the passage, and he was 
quickly followed by another man, and another and another, 
and then the four walked rapidly down the street, and went 
into a public-house and called for refreshment. 

One of these four seemed to rivet Trill's attention. He 
was a medium-sized man, stoutly built, with a sallow face, 
and reddish hair inclining to grey. He had a full, short 
beard that concealed his chin, while a moustache fell over 
his lips. Nevertheless, in spite of this concealment of the 
lower part of his face. Trill felt drawn towards him by some 
inexplicable fascination. It seemed to him, somehow, as if 
he had met the man before. The fellow came vaguely and 
shadowy out of the past, and appeared before Trill as an 
image that at some time or other had been familiar to him. 
Then suddenly, swiftly, it occurred to the detective that he 
had never seen the man in the flesh until that moment ; but 
he had built him up jn his mind's eye from description, and 
that in spite of the alteration in the face by the growth of 
beard and moustache, there was something which to the 
keen eyes of Trill was convincing, and he believed that at 
last he had tracked down the cruel murderer of Miss Thorne. 
Anyway, whether he was right or whether he was wrong, he 
resolved on a very bold move, for one thing was certain — 
these four men were not engaged in legitimate business, and 
some instructive information might be gleaned from them in 
the interest of law and order ; so he gave the word to a 
policeman who had kept near at hand, and that policeman 
soon had others on the spot, until six had assembled. Then 
Trill and his little force marched into the public-house, and, 
to the consternation and amazement of the four men, 
arrested them on a charge, got up to serve the purpose of 
the moment, of having been concerned in a burglary. If 


a bombshell had fallen amongst these four it could not have 
caused them more surprise, for they were obviously under 
the impression that they were free from observation and safe. 
For an instant they made some show of resistance, but only 
for an instant, as they recognised that the forces opposed to 
them were too strong. And so, securely handcufied, the 
four were marched to the police station, but not even Trill 
dreamt then of the importance of his capture. When the 
men were searched they were all found to be wearing little 
silver shield-shaped badges, each one bearing a number. 

Of course the men protested their innocence, declared 
that they were respectable, and got their living by hawking. 
In the case of Shaw, Trill knew that was fidse, and it was 
soon proved to be so in the case of the others. The place 
in Kent Street where Shaw had spent the evening was soon 
discovered, and then some inkling of the true business of the 
prisoners was got, as an immense quantity of valuable 
property of all kinds was found, and it was only too evident 
it was the result of robbery. The man whom Trill suspected 
of being the one wanted for the murder of Miss Thorne gave 
his name as Walter Unwin, but refused any further informa- 
tion about himself. However, his beard and moustache were 
shaved o£f and his whiskers trimmed to answer the description 
of the man wanted, and then the restaurant people were 
brought forward and picked him out, from two dozen others, 
as being the person who dined with Miss Thorne at the 
restaurant on the day when she drew her dividends, and when 
she was supposed to have been murdered. So he was charged 
with that crime, and was asked to account for his movements 
on the day of the murder, but failed to do this. He made 
many conflicting statements, and all these were found to be 

Gradually, patiently, and cleverly a chain of circumstan- 
tial evidence was built up, and perhaps the most damning 
link of all was the finding at his lodgings of a very peculiar 
antique brooch, which was known to have belonged to the 
unfortunate lady. Why the prisoner had kept it was just 
one of those mysteries inseparable from criminal life. More 



over, the buttons which had been picked up by Trill in the 
garden were identical with those on an old waistcoat which 
was amongst the suspected man's clothes. As the ante- 
cedents of these fellows were inquired into it was found that 
they were all ruffians of the worst class, and all had sufiered 
previous imprisonment. But, more than that, it was brought 
to light that they were members of an infamous gang known 
as ^ The League of Old Pals.' Their league numbered 
about twenty members, and each member paid an annual 
subscription, for which he was entitled to be provided with 
legal defence in case of his getting into trouble. Every 
member of the league was supposed to add his share of 
valuables to a common stock, which was periodically disposed 
of abroad, and the proceeds shared pro rata. Every man 
wore a badge whereby he was known to the gang and he 
could command assistance. What may seem still more 
astounding, there was a president and a secretary of this 
infamous league, and a regular set of books were kept. In 
one of these books was a very significant entry. It ran thus : 

'Michael O'Connor, sailed for California, May lo, 
i8— .' 

Further on in the book was an entry pregnant with still 
greater significance : 

^Michael O'Connor, returned from California in the 
« Ocean Star." ' 

On another leaf, written in red ink against his name, was 
the word * Dead.' 

From the information afibrded by this remarkable record 
could anyone doubt that Michael O'Connor was a brutal 
ruffian who foully did poor Jake Dempster to death in the 
Liverpool Docks ? It was only too evident that the fiendish 
gang of thieves and murderers did not confine their opera- 
tions to London, but did business in all parts of the country, 
and every member no doubt was under the impression that 
he enjoyed a much larger measure of safety by allying 
himself to this strange organisation ; and it was certain he 
was able to dispose of his ill-gotten gains to much greater 
advantage than he could have done as an individual, for the 


league conducted its operations in a business way, and had its 
accredited agents abroad. The president turned out to be a 
rascally solicitor who had been imprisoned and struck off the 
Rolls for misappropriation of trust money, while the secretary 
was a stockbroker's clerk, who had also sufiered imprison- 
ment for fraud. 

Against *Unwin/ whose real name was proved to be 
Donald Watson, a Scotsman, the charge of murdering Miss 
Thorne was circumstantially established, and he was duly 
convicted and sentenced to death. It is satisfactory to be 
able to state that just prior to his execution he admitted the 
justice of his sentence. It is no less satisfactory to record 
that the shameful gang was broken up and nearly every one 
convicted of some ofltence, and they all suffered varying 
degrees of punishment. Thus Vincent Trill added another 
laurel to the many he had earned, and once again proved 
himself to be the shrewdest and cleverest detective of his 





The main facts of this case, although weU known to all 
those who take an interest in turf matters, have not hitherto 
been given to the general public, for every means were 
taken at the time to hush the matter up, as there were 
strong reasons for preventing it becoming public property. 
In recording the case it lus been deemed advisable to 
substitute fictitious for real names, but all the incidents are 
perfectly true. The late Lord Allcorn had two sons^ both 
of whom were intended for the Church. At least it was 
hit lordship's desire that they should both take holy orders, 
for he was of a stern, puritanical cast of mind, and strongly 
opposed to every form of worldly pleasure, however innocent. 
Nevertheless, it is beyond doubt that his lordship's youthful 
career was marked by excesses and a wildness which were 
productive of many a scandal, and this career was rounded 
oiF by a clandestine marriage with a second-rate actress, 
whose only recommendation was a faultless figure and good 
looks that enabled her to mould men to her will like wax. 
Not onlv was she a heartless coquette, but if only half the 
stories tnat were told about her at the time were true, she 
must have been one of the most wicked of women. She 
succeeded, nevertheless, in fiiscinating the heir to the Allcorn 
title and estates, and a secret marriage was the result. Of 
course, his family were outraged and horrified when they 
came to know or it, and the young couple were packed off 


abroad, where they resided for some timei and two sons 

were the result of the union. As might have been expected, 

the restriction which marriage imposed upon the lady did 

not fit in with her views of enjoying life, and very soon the 

delighters in scandal were gratified to the top of their bent. Of 

course, a separation was the inevitable consequence, and a 

very handsome allowance was made to the lady on condition 

that the father had the sole up-bringing of the children. She 

did not long survive, however, to enjoy her fortune, as one 

night after a bal maiqud at the Grand Op^ra, in Paris, she, 

having supped not wisely but too well, slipped in descending 

the marble escalier, the heel of her shoe having caught in 

some lace partly torn from her dress. She fell with great 

force, her head coming in contact with the marble steps. She 

was picked up insensible, and died twelve hours afterwards. 

A few months later the young widower succeeded to the 

title and estates ; from that moment he seemed to become 

an absolutely changed man, and abandoned himself to a 

religious austerity which was gloomy and in some respects 

revolting. Between his two sons there was only a difference 

in age of about fifteen months, but in disposition they were 

totally unlike. The eldest, Reginald Duke John, inclined 

to gaiety and pleasure, while his brother was studious, 

thoughtful, and gloomy. Lord AUcorn himself died from 

the effects of a severe chill while he was still a young man 

and his heir was only just turned eighteen years of age. 

When the youthful lord reached his majority and obtained 

possession of his estates, he burst himself free from irksome 

restraints and bonds and gave up all idea of the Church, much 

to the horror and disgust of his brother William. 

The new Lord AUcorn, being wealthy, soon found himself 
the centre of a coterie which fawned upon and flattered him. 
It was pointed out to him that he should lead the life of a 
man of fashion and wealth, and thoroughly enjoy his high 
estate. In this respect his lordship wanted no advice ; he 
had already in a rough way mapped out his own career, and 
as the turf exercised an irresistible fascination over his mind 
he went in for a racing stud, and did this on such a lavish 


scale that his establishment was probably not excelled in the 
whole country. 

For a good many years Lord AUcorn seemed to find in 
horse-racing a delight which nothing else in the world could 
afford him, and there was no better known or more honour- 
able man on the turf, and certainly no man ever did more 
than he to raise the tone of horse-racing. 

As an owner of horses he was not a success. Whether 
it was ill-luck, want of judgment, or through listening to 
bad advisers, it is difficult to say ; but the fact remains that 
he never succeeded in gratifying his ambition by winning a 
great race, nor were his winnings equal to his losses, but he 
always looked forward hopefully to the day when by a big 
haul he might recoup himself for all. This day seemed to 
be within measurable distance when he became the owner of 
the filly Yellow Stocking. She was descended from magni- 
ficent stock and a race of winners ; while judges declared 
that she was the most promising piece of horseflesh in Great 
Britain. She had already done wonderful things. Lord 
AUcorn paid the enormous sum of 15,000/. for her, and there 
were those who declared she was cheap at that. It is need- 
less to say this costly animal was well looked after, and 
immense things were expected of her ; it was predicted, in 
fact, that when her owner liked to run her she would carry 
off the blue ribbon of the turf, and take her place in the 
long list of Derby winners. That was Lord AUcorn's dream, 
the height of his ambition, and at last she was entered for 
the great race. When it became known that she was to 
run for the Derby there was immense excitement in turf 
circles ; as, in her preliminary canters, experts professed to 
see a dead-sure winner in the promising filly. The touts, 
hangers-on, and spies for the various sporting journals 
watched her every movement and chronicled it in their 
respective papers. Seldom had there been anything like 
the excitement that there was over this horse, and as the day 
for the race drew near, it was looked upon as a foregone 
conclusion that it would be practically a walk-over for 
Yellow Stocking. 


It wanted but a week to the great day when a report 
flew over the electric wires to the furthest ends of the 
land that Yellow Stocking was dead. The first information 
was to the eiFect that the filly, after being exercised during 
the morning, was safely placed in her stable, and the usual 
precautions taken to guard against foul play. Nevertheless, 
many hours later, one of the stable hands on duty heard 
a peculiar noise, and called the attention of Mr. Matthews, 
the trainer, to it. Investigation revealed the fact that 
Yellow Stocking was suffering and in great pain. The 
veterinary surgeon was immediately summoned, but before 
he had time to get to the stable the favourite was dead. 

This account was substantially correct, though some of 
the details were inaccurate. An amended version of the 
afiair was that a stable lad first heard the peculiar noise, 
and called the attention of Jim BuUen to it. Bullen was 
in charge of the stables that night, and had two men and 
two lads under him. He had been lying down on some 
sacks in a corner of the saddle room, and was annoyed at 
being disturbed, and took no steps to ascertain the cause of 
the noise. But presently there came from Yellow Stocking's 
stall a scream that was half human. For some moments 
the men seemed to be so stricken with fear that they 
stared at each other in blank amazement, as if each was 
waiting for the other to take the initiative. At length, 
Bullen seized the keys, and, leading the way with a 
lighted lantern, dashed into the stalls followed by the 
others. Yellow Stocking was then stretched upon the 
ground, and was quite motionless. The Wet.' was sent 
for, but he could do nothing, for the filly was stone 

When the news of the filly's death was confirmed, the 
sensation amongst the public was extraordinary. It could 
hardly have been greater, for the time being, if the sudden 
death of her Majesty the Queen had been reported. Yellow 
Stocking had been so much talked about. The name had 
been familiarised to almost everyone, and even people who 
took no interest in horse-racing had heard of this 


wonderful youngster, for which a fortune had been paid bjr 
Lord Allcorn, who was very popular, owing to the pluck 
and enterprise he had always shown, no less than for his 
upright and honourable conduct. It was said he had done 
more than any man of his time to clear away much of the 
odium attaching to horse-racing. 

A post-mortem examination placed it beyond doubt 
that the death of Yellow Stocking was due entirely to 
poison, and there was reason for supposing that the poison, 
together with a quantity of finely-ground glass, had been 
administered by means of a bran mash. 

As may be supposed. Lord Allcorn himself was in a 
terrible state of mind ; for, apart from the heavy sum he had 
paid for the fiUy, he had set his hopes on winning a Derby 
with her, and for him to have won a Derby meant a replen- 
ishing of his somewhat depleted coffers. Without loss of 
time he secretly brought Vincent Trill into the case, and 
declared that, cost what it would, he would leave no stone 
unturned to discover and punish the perpetrator of the 
fiendish cruelty. 

The stables in which the foul deed was done belonged 
to his lordship, and there were six other horses besides 
Yellow Stocking there at the time of the crime. They were 
all more or less valuable, but there had been no attempt to 
injure them, and therefore the poisoning of Yellow Stocking 
showed a malicious and deliberate design to prevent Lord 
Allcorn winning the Derby, 

The most cursory examination made it evident that 
the criminal must have been very well acquainted indeed 
with the run of the stables. They had been arranged and 
built with a special regard to the safety of the animals 
stationed there. They formed three sides of a small quad- 
rangle, the fourth side being filled up by the trainer's and 
stablemen's houses, with a central arch and massive iron gate. 
The only communication with the stables from the outside 
was through the archway or the trainer's house, which had 
a doorway feeing a private road. At the back of the block 
of buildings was a wood, covering about six or seven acres ; 


for the rest there was nothing but open and rolling country 
for miles. 

It was a natural consequence that the stable hands 
should iall under suspicion. A Mr. Fred Matthews was 
the trainer and was in charge of the establishment. Living 
with him in the house already mentioned were his wife, his 
daughter, a pretty girl aged about twenty-two, and his son, 
a young lad about sixteen. In addition, there were two 
female servants. * Jim ' BuUen was the chief stableman. 
When any important horse was in the stables Jim was sup- 
posed to exercise increased vigilance, and on the night 
that Yellow Stocking was so cruelly done to death, Jim 
was in the harness or saddle room, and had with him two 
men and two lads. The lads were apprentices, but the men 
were casual hands, and had only been in Lord Allcorn's ser- 
vice a little over three weeks. They had, however, been in 
the employment for several years of a wealthy and well- 
known tradesman, who kept a racing establishment in the 
neighbourhood. They had left him because he was giving 
up racing owing to a domestic bereavement, and was going 
to travel abroad. Their late master gave these men excel- 
lent characters. BuUen, who was a middle-aged man, had 
been about the Heath from his earliest childhood. In fact, 
he first saw the light within a few miles of it. He was 
well known ; and, with the exception that he occasionally 
had a drinking bout, was in every way regarded as a well- 
behaved and exceedingly honest man. After a few days' 
patient and exhaustive investigation. Trill came to the con- 
clusion that there was no reason to suspect these men as 
being parties to the crime. It was pretty evident that no 
one would have aided and abetted the chief criminal, even 
indirectly, unless he had been well paid for his services, 
and when men in their station of life unexpectedly 
acquire what to them is wealth, they are almost sure to 
betray themselves. But no sign was forthcoming in this 
respect, although Trill carefully watched for it. Although 
the freedom of these men from any guilty knowledge 
yf2iS primd facie clearly established, it was obvious that the 


person who did the deed must have had a confederate 
amongst the personnel of the establishment. If that con- 
federate was not to be found in the ranks of the inferiors, 
he must be sought among the superiors. So argued Trill, 
and he shaped his course accordingly. 

Firstly, there were Fred Matthews, his wife, a buxom 
woman, only a little on the wrong side of forty, their 
daughter Lydia, an exceedingly pretty but rather flighty 
young woman, excessively fond, so rumour had it, of 
dress and jewellery. A garrulous old lady who kept a 
small huckster's shop in the neighbouring village was ex- 
cited, in expressing her opinion of Miss Matthews, at the 
mere incidental mention of the young lady's name. 

* She,' exclaimed the dame with a tremendous emphasis 
on the ^ she,' and a severely critical expression of face ; 
' she is a beauty, she is ; one would think she wur a fine 
lady the way she gives herself airs. And for a gel like 
her, what's only the daughter of a horse trainer, to wear 
the clothes and joolery she does ! Well, it's disgraceful, 
that's what it is. I couldn't a done no sich thing when I 
wur a gel. But ther. Lor' bless yer, there ain't no telling 
what gels is a-comin' to nowadays.' 

The other members of the Matthews' household were 
the son, a reserved, quiet, well-behaved youth, and two 
domestics, a woman of nearly fifty, who did the cooking, 
and a young girl of about nineteen. 

I have already said that Trill had definitely decided 
in his own mind that there were no grounds for sus- 
pecting Bullen or his mates. Of course he had the 
advantage of talking to these men and boys, and of 
closely scrutinising them, as in his apparently aimless and 
dreamy way he plied them with questions, and the convic- 
tion came to him that they were innocent. Nevertheless, 
no stranger could have gained access to the stables without 
the connivance of somebody connected with the establish- 
ment. He was, therefore, forced to seek the someone in 
Mr. Matthews' household. Matthews himself was almost 
out of his mind with grief and distress. If he was acting a 


part in this respect, his acting was very cleverly done. 
Assuming that Matthews had been in financial difficulties, 
it was easy to suppose that he might have been tempted 
to crime by the olFer of a heavy bribe. But Trill 
secretly ascertained that he was well off. He had a large 
balance standing to his credit in the local bank, and was 
free from all financial worries. His wife was a mild, fiissy, 
good-natured, genial woman, and to associate her with such 
a crime, even in theory, seemed absurd. As for the two 
domestics, it was next to impossible that they could have 
had any hand in the crime, either directly or indirectly. 
That there was a traitor in the camp was certain, but 
that traitor was somebody having freedom of action, and not 
subject to the restrictions usually imposed in such an esta- 
blishment, and under such circumstances. This was Trill' 3 
line of argument, and though on the first blush it might 
have appeared preposterous, he came to the conclusion that 
Lydia Matthews wasn't ignorant of the way the deed had 
been accomplished. It was, of course, a startling theory, 
and he kept it to himself. 

There were many minor reasons for this conclusion, 
but the chief one was that Lydia, as he ascertained, was 
a perfectly free agent. That is to say, being of full age, 
self-assertive and independent, she did very much as she 
liked, free from any great amount of controlling influence 
of her parents. It was only natural, perhaps, that as the 
daughter of a trainer she should be interested in horse- 
flesh, and she bore the reputation of being an excellent 
judge of a horse. She rode well, and was the owner of 
a fine animal which her father had presented to her. This 
horse occupied a loose-box at the end of the stables, to 
which she had access at any time. It has already been 
stated that there was post-mortem evidence that the poison 
which finished oflF Yellow Stocking had been administered 
to her through the medium of a bran mash. A large 
metal basin bore the remains of a bran mash, but that in- 
dicated nothing, as it had been used by the stablemen to 
give a mash to some of the other horses. But there was 


one other small matter which Trill rapidly seized upon. 
A bran mash is usually mixed with hot water. After the 
stables had been closed for the night an intruder would 
have found considerable difficulty in procuring hot water. 
In this instance hot water had probably been brought into 
the stable in a painted hot water can such as is used in a 
private house to convey water to a bedroom. This can, 
which was painted oak colour, and bore the words ^Hot 
water ' on the side, was found by a stable boy in an un- 
occupied stall, and he exclaimed in Trill's hearing : 

* This 'ere can don't belong to th' stables.' 

Trill took the can and told the boy to say nothing 
more on the subject, and the youth, attaching no im- 
portance to the incident, had probably dismissed it from 
his mind in the course of the next half-hour. But not 
so Trill. A little diplomatic questioning elicited from 
Matthews' servants that the can had been taken out of 
the kitchen, but who had taken it they couldn't possibly 
say. None of the stablemen was ever allowed into the 
kitchen. That was a point about which Mr. Matthews 
was very particular. In fact, none of the stable hands had 
the entri^e to the house at all. As any infringement of the 
rule would have probably led to dismissal, it was pretty strictly 
observed by those interested. 

The suspicions that Trill entertained against Miss 
Matthews were thus materially strengthened, but he did not 
believe for a moment that she stood alone in the matter. He 
regarded her as a mere tool who had succumbed to some 
powerful influence. No mere stranger could have ap- 
proached her and induced her to commit such a crime, not 
even for the sake of gold, because she was far too sharp not 
to see that any sudden acquisition of money on her part 
would at once have laid her under suspicion. No, in Trill's 
opinion the influence that had been exerted was that which a 
man acquires when a woman becomes fascinated with him. 

Sharp and shrewd as Lydia was in many respects, she 
was silly in others. This silliness showed itself in aspira- 
tions above her station, a love of finery, and frivolity of 


conduct that were almost childish. She was thoroughly at ' 
home amongst horses, and had a perfect command of the 
slang peculiar to the stables and the turf. She had received 
an orcHnary education, and had spent two years at a so-called 
fashionable boarding school. 

Trill's efforts were now directed to trying to discover 
the girFs lover. She seemed very well known to most of 
the young sprigs for miles round, and was regarded as a very 
heartless sort of flirt. She went away from home a good 
deal, as she was in the habit of paying frequent visits to 
relatives in London, Brighton, and Southampton, and as far 
as was ascertainable in an ordinary way she had no attach- 
ment to anyone in particular ; but she was reputed to be 
very secretive, and she kept her affairs to herself. Trill was 
very careful not to alarm her, and equally careful to avoid 
letting her parents know he suspected her. 

The death of Yellow Stocking deprived the Derby that 
year of a good deal of its interest. The gathering of people 
was as great as ever, and the day lacked none of those 
incidents which are so distinctive of a Derby, and which 
serve to make it the most remarkable event of the racing 
year ; but, nevertheless, it was counted tame and disappoint- 
ing compared to what it would have been had Yellow 
Stocking been able to keep her engagement, and competed 
for the honour of winning the great race. It was remarked 
as very significant that Lord AUcorn himself was absent, 
and gossips said that, quite apart from the loss he sustained 
by the death of the favourite, he had been hit very hard over 
the race. 

A few da}rs after the Derby had been run, a paragraph 
went the round of the papers to the effect that Lord AUcorn 
had been medically advised to take a long holiday, and 
consequently had gone abroad, where he would remain for 
at least three months. Those who pretended to be in the 
* know ' whispered that his lordship's departure from England 
was due to financial embarrassment, and one or two 
sporting journals boldly asserted that Lord AUcorn intended 
to entirely sever his connection with the turf. 


Previous to his departure for the Continent^ Lord 
Allcorn had a long interview with Vincent Trill, and 
expressed a hope that the criminal might be discovered. 
His lordship said nothing about financial losses, but he did 
complain of beine very cast down and out of sorts. He ex- 
pected that a spell abroad would set him up. He gave Trill 
carte blanche so far as the investigation of the poisoning of 
Yellow Stocking went, and said he would spare no expense 
to bring the criminal to justice. 

The sensation caused by the death of Yellow Stocking 
lasted something more than the proverbial nine days. 
There were circumstances in connection with the case 
which enhanced the interest, and served to keep it alive in 
the public memory. But even if the public had been 
inclined to readily forget it, the press generally, and the 
sporting papers in particular, found it far too fruitful a theme 
to abandon it, and the most sensational rumours were 
published one day, to be contradicted the next. Circum- 
stantial and detailed particulars were given of the running 
to earth of the supposed criminal, and one day the startling 
announcement was made that Lord Allcorn had shot himself 
while suffering from a fit of depression due to financial 
difficulties. It is needless, perhaps, to say that these stories 
were the mere figments of the penny-a-liner's brain ; but the 
papers took them eagerly, for almost every paper, while it 
aflfects to despise sensation, lives and fattens on it. 

A very considerable amount of surprise was expressed 
that Vincent Trill had failed to get any clue to the perpe- 
trator of the deed. But Vincent Trill never gave himself 
away. He kept his thoughts to himself. He worked 
silently, and it was only when he had absolutely secured 
his quarry that he spoke. About a fortnight after Lord 
Allcorn's departure for the Continent, Trill was in South- 
ampton, and was staying at the Dolphin Hotel, in the High 
Street. He was supposed to be a commercial traveller. In 
the same hotel was staying a Mr. William Raymond, in 
whom Trill seemed much interested. Raymond was 
rather a notable-looking man. He was young, with regular 


features, and an aristocratic bearing. But his face wore a 
severe and cvnical expression, due to a habitual frown and 
a slight curling of the lip. He held himself aloof from 
everybody in the hotel, and it was noticed that he always 
brought a small Bible to the table with him and read it 
studiously during the time he was partaking of his meals. 
From this and his want of geniality, some of the visitors pro- 
nounced him a fool, and others dubbed him a fanatic. What- 
ever he was, he did not concern himself with anyone, and 
seemed, in fact, to regard his fellow visitors in the hotel 
with contempt. Despite his austere looks he undoubtedly 
had a love for the flesh-pots, and was fond of personal com- 
fort, for he lived well and invariably drank two wines at his 
luncheon and dinner, and he occupied one of the best and 
most luxuriously furnished rooms in the house. 

If it had been announced at this time that Vincent 
Trill suspected the semi-clerical, severe-looking Bible-read- 
ing gentleman of knowing exactly how Yellow Stocking 
was poisoned, and why she was poisoned, it is probable that 
there would have been a consensus of opinion that Trill's 
sagacity had failed him, and his mind had given way ; for 
it did seem such a tax upon the imagination to associate 
the aristocratic stranger with horse-racing, or turf matters 
of any kind. So far from his appearance suggesting any 
such thing, one would have been tempted to pronounce 
off-hand that he was a teacher in a Suncky-school or a lay 
preacher. But whatever he was, Trill's dreamy eyes 
watched him with untiring vigilance, and Trill's thoughts, 
like his methods, were his own. 

Of course, Mr. Raymond himself had no idea that he 
was an object of so much interest to the quiet, dreamy- 
looking man, who seemed so reserved, and as if alwa)rs 
absorbed in an inward self-contemplation. Nor could any- 
one else in the house possibly have suspected it. Trill did 
not hold himself aloof from the others. He played a game 
at billiards, and a good game too. He smoked his cigar in 
the smoking-room, and took his toddy ; but no one could 
ever draw him, no one could fathom him, and neither 


inquisitiveness nor curiosity could exact from him a single 
hint as to who he was, where he came from, or where he 
was going to. The boots referred to him as * the com- 
mercial gent./ while the habituA of the billiard-room, if 
discussing in his absence his merits as a player, would 
probably designate him * the quiet cove,' or * the commercial 
who plays such a ripping game.' 

One night, about a week after Trill had taken up his 
residence in the Dolphin Hotel at Southampton, a gentleman 
walked up and down close to the entrance to the west pier. 
He was evidently waiting for somebody. The night was 
beautiful, soft, balmy, delicious. There was no wind. 
The sea was as smooth as glass ; the sky was resplendent 
with stars. For ten minutes or more the gentleman paced 
up and down, and once he pulled forth his watch with an 
impatient gesture, and looked at the time by the light from 
an adjacent lamp. At last there came to him a well-dressed 
lady, wearing dainty kid gloves, and a straw hat, with a 
bewitching, flimsy little veil screening her fece. The two 
greeted each other warmly, as lovers might, and after en- 
gaging in conversation for some minutes they descended the 
steps to the water, where a light boat was moored. The 
gentleman handed the lady in, cast off the moorings, and 
while she settled herself on the cushions in the stern sheets, 
he sat on the midship thwart and plied the oars with a 
practised hand, and very soon the little craft had become a 
mere shadow on the star-gemmed water. 

It was apparently a commonplace incident enough. A 
young couple in the billing and cooing stage met by 
appointment and went for a row by starlight on the sleeping 

The morning after this little incident, Vincent Trill 
paid his reckoning at the Dolphin, and took his departure 
for London. Many days passed, when one morning the post 
brought him a letter bearing the Florence postmark. The 
writer was Lord AUcorn, and it was an answer to Trill who 
had sent to his lordship. The substance of the letter was 
as follows : 


^For God's sake do not let the discovery you have 
made become public. Hush it up, and let the whole 
business be for ever regarded as an unsolved mystery. I am 
appalled and dumbfoundered. It seems to me as if the 
iniquity of human nature could reach no deeper depth. I 
will be in England almost as soon as this letter, and will 
then discuss the situation with you. But in the meantime 
do not breathe to living soul a word of what you have 
learnt. Yours faithfully, 

* Allcorn.' 

Vincent Trill had indeed made a startling discovery, 
and it is necessary to explain how this discovery came 

When his suspicions fastened on Lydia Matthews, he 
necessarily became deeply interested in everything that 
concerned her, and he came to know that she was in the 
habit of receiving letters addressed to her at the little post 
ofEce at a village ten miles from her residence. She always 
called for these letters herself, and it was noted by the old 
lady who conducted the post office business that the enve- 
lopes of the letters which Miss Lydia was always so eager 
to get bore a crest and motto. Trill was shown one of the 
letters that was waiting to be fetched, and he made a note 
that the crest was a mailed hand clasping a naked dagger, 
with the motto 


His astonishment was great when he learnt that the 
crest and motto were those of Lord Allcorn's family, and 
it came as a revelation to him. He at once set to work 
on new lines, and, believing that the end always justified the 
means, he one day employed a trusted messenger to bear a 
note ostensibly written by Miss Lydia Matthews to the 
postmistress at the village post office, requesting her to 
hand any letters she might have for Miss Matthews to the 
messenger. There was only one letter, but it was given 
up. It was worded as follows : 




* My dear Lydia, — I am glad to hear you are going to 
Southampton. I will meet you there, and we can talk 
matters over. I always put up at the Dolphin Hotel when 
I am in Southampton. I shall leave London on Monday 
next. — Yours ever affectionately, 

* William Raymond.' 

This note, which had been carefully opened, was care- 
fully reiastened and sent by hand to Lydia at her father's 
residence. It was, perhaps, rather a risky proceeding, but 
fortunately her suspicions were not aroused. 

From the first Trill came to the conclusion that the 
writer of the note had no legitimate claim to the name of 
* Raymond.' Otherwise, why did he use the AUcorn crest 
and motto ? And a little investigation revealed to Trill 
the startling fact that ^ William Raymond ' was none other 
than his lordship's own brother. Lord Allcorn's feelings 
may be better imagined than described when this discovery 
was made, and as soon as he returned to London he and 
Trill had an interview with Lydia in the presence of her 
father and mother. Under the fear of exposure and prose- 
cution, she confessed with wailings and tears that * William 
Raymond,' whom she never suspected of being Allcorn's 
brother, though she knew he belonged to the aristocracy, 
sought her out, and made professions of love to her, but he 
confessed that he was strongly opposed to horse-racing, and 
considered Lord Allcorn a desperately wicked man, who 
was ruining himself and his family. Raymond posed as a 
devout Christian, and gained such an influence over the girl 
that he persuaded her into administering the fatal dose to 
the horse, he himself supplying the poison. 

When the criminal was asked to confirm or deny this 
statement, he at once confirmed it ; but, fanatic as he was, 
he sought to justify it on moral grounds. He said that he 
considered horse-racing the pastime of the devil, and that 
any means were justifiable to prevent his brother going 
to perdition. When asked if he intended to marry Lydia 


Matthews he prevaricated and would give no direct answer, 
though he declared that he was very fond of her. 

It was but natural that Lord Allcorn should object to 
carry the matter into a court of law, but he only refrained 
from so doing on condition that his half-crazy brother 
betook himself to some other country and remained there. 
This William consented to do, and later on, as if to spite his 
brother, he prevailed on Lydia to join him, and he made 
her his wife. Soon afterwards Lord Allcorn himself married, 
and in the process of time three sons came to bless his 
union, so that William's chances of succeeding to the title 
were very remote. 

The death of Yellow Stocking was a bitter blow to 
Lord Allcorn, and he ceased to take any prominent part in 
turf matters, greatly to the regret of an immense number 
of people who knew him to be a thoroughly upright and 
honourable gentleman who loved sport for sport's sake. 

X 2 



The gentleman whose name figures at the head of this 
record was probably of Dutch extraction. He was a native 
of New York, though domiciled in London, where he had 
resided for some years, and had taken out letters of naturali- 
sation. He was the European representative of, and partner 
in, the well-known firm of hardware manufacturers — 
JeflFerson, Chantrey, Spiel and Co., of New York. 

Mr. Spiel was in the early prime of life. He was a 
handsome, well-built man, who dressed with scrupulous 
smartness and care, lived like a prince, and was extremely 
popular in literary, musical, artistic and cultured Bohemian 
circles. He had dabbled in literature himself, could paint 
passably, was a good amateur musician, and, being richly 
endowed with the world's gear and admittedly a good fellow, 
his company was much sought after. 

Mr. Spiel was a bachelor, and occupied a very hand- 
somely furnished flat in South Kensington, where he resided 
in lonely splendour. His ordinary wants were attended to 
by a young mail who served him as valet, and a staid, sedate, 
matronly woman who acted as housekeeper, looked after his 
wardrobe, and kept a watchful eye generally on his establish- 
ment. When at home he entertained in a lavish manner, 
and his suppers and musical reunions were attended by 
prominent literary men, artists, actors, and musicians. He 
travelled a good deal, however, on behalf of his firm, and 
was almost as well known in Edinburgh and Glasgow, in 


Liverpool and Manchester, in Birmingham and Sheffield as 
he was in London. Twice a year for many years he had 
been in the habit of returning to New York to consult 
with his partners and look into matters generally. 

He had just returned from one of these periodical visits, 
and was in the best of health and excellent spirits, and as 
was his custom after his return to London he was arranging 
for a pretty big gathering of friends, and to that end had 
instructed Mrs. Weedon — that was his housekeeper's name 
— to send out the cards of invitation. Mr. Spiel's business 
offices were situated in Lombard Street, and here he kept a 
large staff of clerks to deal with the orders and correspondence, 
which necessarily was very extensive. One day on leaving 
for the city he told Mrs. Weedon that he would dine at 
home that evening with two friends, and bade her prepare a 
recherche little dinner. He had been back from America 
just a week, and seemed to be not only in remarkably good 
health, but in unusually high spirits. As a rule, he was an 
exceedingly cheerful man ; he was very fond of life, was 
full of broad human sympathy, was kindly disposed towards 
everyone, and was known to be liberal-handed, and many a 
struggling fellow-mortal was indebted to him for substantial 
assistance. It almost goes without saying that surprise 
should be felt that such a man chose to lead a single life. 
Rich, good-looking, and healthy, how was it he did not take 
unto himself a wife ? That expressed the general feeling of 
his friends, but it was a subject about which he would 
permit no discussion ; and if anyone indiscreetly ventured 
to ask him why he preferred bachelorhood he would prcnnptly 
reply, curtly, that it was in accordance with his tastes. 
Nothing seemed to irritate him so much as that one ques- 
tion ; and yet it was well known that he was a favourite 
with ladies, paid them great attention, was fond of their 
society, and always treated them with knightly courtesy. 
More than one designing mother had endeavoured by every 
means in her power to capture him for her daughter, but 
failure, and sometimes ignominious failure, was invariably 
the result of these efforts, 


On the day he had instructed Mrs. Weedon to prepare 
dinner for hioaself and two friends, he telegraphed to her 
soon after he got to the city to say that she was not to 
trouble about the dinner, as he found he would be detained 
in the city longer than he expected, and was wiring his 
friends to that effect. 

He did not reach home until past midnight. He let 
himself in with his latchkey, and as his servants had orders 
not to sit up for him when he was late, he was surprised to 
find Mrs. Weedon still about ; and on his inquiring why she 
had not retired, she stated that the lady who occupied 
the flat above in company with her husband had been 
taken suddenly ill about eight o'clock, and had sent down 
to Mr. Spiel's chambers to borrow a little brandy. ^ Un- 
fortunately,' added Mrs. Weedon, * there was none in the 
decanter on the sideboard, and I found you had inadvertently 
taken the keys of the wine closet away with you. However, 
I went and purchased some, and have been sitting with her 
ever since.' 

^ Is she better ? ' inquired Mr. Spiel, with ill-concealed 

* I think so ; but she was very restless when I left her a 
quarter of an hour ago.' 

* Is her husband with her ? ' 

^ He is now ; but he only came in as I was coming 

Mr. Spiel told his housekeeper that she could go to bed, 
and when she had retired he put on a smoking jacket and 
cap, exchanged his boots for slippers, and, having procured a 
bottle of brandy from his store, he went upstairs to his 
neighbour's fiat, and in response to his knock the door was 
opened by the husband, who at once admitted him. Mr. 
Spiel's neighbour was a young man, not more than about 
five-and-twenty. He was an American. His name was 
Conrad Gifibrd. He was desirous of perfecting himself as 
an artist, and had come to England to study art. His wife 
was very much younger than he was — 2. mere girl, in fact, 
and of singular beauty. They had been married nearly two 


years but were childless, Mr. and Mrs, Gifiord and Mr* 
Spiel were on terms of close intimacy, and Spiel took great 
interest in the young couple. 

It was striking two o'clock when Mr. Spiel left the 
Giffbrd apartment, and from that moment the mystery 
began. Let it be remembered that he was in slippers, 
smoking jacket, and cap. 

The next morning about the usual hour — that was, eight 
o'clock — Mrs. Weedon, in accordance with her invariable 
rule, prepared a cup of excellent cofFee and a delicate slice 
of thin toast, and sent them to the master's bedroom by 
Thomas Finch, the young man who acted as his valet. 
A few minutes later Finch entered the kitchen hurriedly 
and looking a little alarmed. 

*The governor's not in his room, and the bed ain't 
been slept on,' he exclaimed to Mrs. Weedon. 

^ Well, I'm not surprised. I suppose he stayed upstairs 
all night with the GiiFords. He will be down directly, no 

The housekeeper and the valet busied themselves with 
various duties until nine o'clock ; then Weedon sent Finch 
up to the Gifibrds to inquire if Mr. Spiel intended to 
breakfast there. Very soon Finch came back with the 
startling news that the * governor * left there at two o'clock 
in the morning. 

Mrs. Weedon was necessarily alarmed now, because she 
knew that her master had gone out in his slippers and 
smoking jacket ; therefore he could have had no intention 
of proceeding elsewhere than to his own apartments 
when he left the GifFords. She at once hurried upstairs and 
discussed the situation with the GiiFords, who manifested 
great distress and anxiety. Mr. Spiel was such a regular 
and punctilious sort of man that his disappearance could not 
be regarded calmly. Mrs. Gifford, in particular, was 
almost hysterical with grief, and begged her husband to 
proceed at once to Scotland Yard and inform the police. 
But GifFord said that such an extreme measure was hardly 
justified at that sta^e, and counselled patience, Bi^t when 


noon came without bringing a sign of the missing man, 
and a telegram arrived from his chief clerk, inquiring if he 
intended to go to the ofEce, as there were important business 
matters waiting his prompt attention, it was decided that 
the time had come for some steps to be taken, and Mr. 
Gii&rd started at once for Scotland Yard. As soon as in- 
formation had been lodged inquiries were set on foot, and a 
prominent member of the force waited on the GifFords and 
Mrs. Weedon, and plied them with a string of questions 
bearing principally on the missing gentleman's habits and 
tastes. At first he was not disposed to take a very serious view 
of the case. * Bachelor gentlemen do some very queer 
things sometimes,' he s^piently remarked. But when it 
was impressed upon him, both by Mrs. Giflbrd and Mrs. 
Weedon, that the subject of the inquiry was a gentleman 
of most methodical and regular habits, whose conduct was 
above suspicion, the prominent member of the force changed 
his opinion, and declared that there was * something fishy 
about the business.' 

Three days passed without a sign, and some ubiquitous 
reporter, having got hold of the bare facts as stated so far, 
proceeded without a moment's loss of time to make sensa- 
tional copy out of it. The majority of Mr. Spiel's numer- 
ous friends thus learnt the state of matters for the first 
time, and so greatly were they alarmed that Vincent Trill 
was asked to try and trace the missing man, who was far 
too prominent a member of society to be allowed to dis- 
appear quietly. 

At this point it is d propos that a few words should be 
devoted to Vincent Trill, who was singularly unlike the 
commonly accepted type of the detective. He was a lightly 
built man, of medium height, inclining to baldness, although 
on the right side of forty. His smooth-shaven face was 
suggestive of the priest in its mild, benignant expression. 
He was slow in his movements, deliberate in his speech ; 
and there was a certain dreaminess in his soft brown eyes 
which was calculated to lead a stranger to think that he was 
^ visionary, ^zin^ ever into the future, and knowing 


nothing of the present. But rarely indeed does a man 
belie his outward appearance in so marked a manner as 
Trill did. It was wonderful how little really escaped those 
dreamy brown eyes, while the somewhat prominent nose 
and the firm mouth gave some indication to the character 
reader of Trill's wonderful capability of perseverance, and 
his dogged determination. When once Vincent Trill had 
determined on a line to follow, nothing short of death could 
have prevented him following it. Not only had he been 
born with the peculiar gifts which are indispensable to the 
man who would distinguish himself as a solver of human 
puzzles, but long training and great experience had perfected 
him in his art. 

In the initial stages of his inquiry respecting Mr. Spiel's 
strange disappearance, he was at pains to get thoroughly 
reliable information about Mr. Spiel's habits and tastes. 
Mrs. Weedon, who believed that her master was perfect, 
spoke enthusiastically, and described him as being without a 
blemish. Regarding her information as biassed. Trill went 
to other quarters, with the result of getting information in 
the main corroborative of all the faithful housekeeper had 

The case now assumed more serious aspects, and the 
logical deduction was that there had been foul play, but 
that at once presented a knotty problem to Trill. For 
Mr. Spiel was admitted on all sides to be a ^ level-headed 
man,* and not likely to be carried away by any passing 
whim or fancy. He had gone up to his neighbour's rooms 
with his jacket, smoking cap, and slippers on. It was 
pretty evident, therefore, that he had no original intention 
of proceeding elsewhere. Every night, at midnight, the 
main door of the building, communicating with the street, 
was shut, and the porter, who was on duty all day, retired 
for the night. Any resident coming after twelve had to 
let himself in with a latchkey ; and, of course, anyone 
wishing to go out had no difficulty in opening the door 
from the inside. The GifFords asserted that Mr. Spiel left 
them at two o'clock to go down to his own apartments. 


Mrs. Gifford was in bed. She had been in bed for hours, 
and Spiel had sat beside her. When he bade her good- 
night, he went with GifFord into the dining-room, where 
they smoked a cigarette and had something to drink. They 
were in the dining-room nearly half an hour. When 
GiiFord opened the door for his guest to depart, the landing 
was in partial gloom. Only a glimmer of gas was left 
burning on each landing. Silence reigned throughout the 
building, and as Spiel had only to descend one storey, a 
minute would have sufficed for him to reach his own rooms. 
But it was pretty evident he did not go to his own rooms, 
and must have descended straight to the street and have 
gone out. 

This at once suggested the startling question — Why 
had he gone out ? 

There was a unanimity of opinion that he was a 
strikingly cheerful man. He was very well off, had no 
business cares, no domestic troubles. Few human beings, 
indeed, are so blessed as Mr. Spiel was. His life was serene 
and bright, and he seemed to lack nothing that could tend 
to make him perfectly happy. An intimate medical friend, 
who had known him for years, declared that he was a 
thoroughly sound and healthy man, who had been often 
heard to state that he had never had a headache, and 
scarcely knew what a pain was. The same medical 
authority also expressed a very firm opinion that Spiel, or 
all men he knew, was the least likely to become the 
victim of sudden aberration, or to fall a prey to hallucinations. 

All this was very decided, and left apparently no room 
for the intrusion of doubt. At the same time it only 
served to make the mystery still more mysterious, since no 
ordinary theory could suggest a plausible reason why such 
a man should have taken himself off and left no trace 
behind. On the other hand, supposing he was the victim 
of foul play, there must have been a conspiracy, and some 
extraordinary means must have been used to lure him from 
the building, since it was pretty evident that he could not 
be on the preinises either living or dead. It would hav^ 


been impossible for his dead body to have been concealed 
anywhere in the block, and just as impossible for him to be 
detained as a prisoner if living. 

These, then, were the difficulties that confronted Trill 
in his endeavours to elucidate the mystery. In the mean- 
time a long cablegram had been sent to the New York 
firm explaining matters, and it brought back the following 
reply : 

* We are overwhelmed with grief at the news of our 
partner and friend. Feel sure there has been foul play. 
Spare neither trouble nor expense to discover his where- 

Trill himself had come to the conclusion that Spiel was 
the victim of foul play, as there wasn't a shadow of justifica- 
tion for believing that the unfortunate man was voluntarily 
absenting himself. The detective's energies were now 
directed to discovering how Spiel had passed the evening 
the night he disappeared. It will be remembered he had 
told his housekeeper that he was going to take two friends 
home to dinner, but on reaching the city he wired to say 
that the dinner was to be countermanded. In his office 
desk he kept a book for copies of his private telegrams, and 
from this it appeared that soon after reaching the office he 
wired to each of his two friends who were to have joined 
him at dinner, telling them that he could not possibly keep 
his engagement, as an unexpected business matter had 
turned up, and it would keep him at the office until very 
late. His confidential clerk told Trill, in answer to 
questions, that he knew of no business matter of an unex- 
pected nature, and as a matter of fact Spiel left his office at 
half-past four, driving away in a hansom cab which the 
office boy was sent to call. In the private desk there was 
also found the following telegram : 

* To-night, six-thirty. Under the Red Rose. Fail at 
your peril.' 

The telegram bore the date of the day of his disappear- 
ance, and it had been handed in at an office in Bermondsey, 
on the south side of the Thames, at eleven o'clock a,m, 


Vincent Trill felt now that he had struck a trail. It 
was plain on the face of it that Spiel had some reason for 
practising deception. Otherwise, why did he telegraph to 
his friends and tell them he would be at the office till late ? 
The next step was to discover the cabman who drove him 
from the office on the eventful day. After some delay this 
man vras found, and he remembered having * drove the gent' 
from Lombard Street to London Bridge Railway Station, 
where the cabman was paid his fare and dismissed. Why 
did Mr. Spiel go to London Bridge Railway Station ? Trill 
asked himself. Then he remembered that the mysterious 
telegram bore the stamp of an office in Bermondsey. The 
sender probably lived in Bermondsey, and Spiel took the 
train there. Bermondsey is not a delectable quarter of 
London, and many parts of it aflFord shelter to vice and crime. 
Therefore Mr. Spiel had reason for not letting his visit to 
the unholy neighbourhood be known, and instead of driving 
to it he had taken the train. Trill also took the train and 
alighted at South Bermondsey Station, and made his way to 
the office where the telegram was handed in. But there he 
learnt nothing. It was a busy place, and none of the clerks 
could remember what the sender was like. Nor had he 
given any address. 

So far, then, the scent failed, but Trill was not baffled. He 
felt he had got a clue ; a vague and shadowy one, it was 
true, but still a clue, and Trill knew how to make the most 
of it. It was a logical conclusion to come to that Spiel had 
visited Bermondsey, and as he had no business relations 
there he must have gone on a secret mission. And some- 
body there obviously was able to exercise a remarkable 
influence over him. That influence was — so Trill decided 
— an evil one. Being evil. Spiel's life was not so blameless 
as his friends imagined. On the night of his disappearance 
he had been compelled to go to Bermondsey surreptitiously 
in order to meet someone at 6.30. And * under the Red 
Rose ; fail at your peril,' was a significant sentence. It 
conveyed a threat, and the threat seemed to have been 


Trill's next step was to return to Spiel's chambers and 
again confer with Mrs. Weedon. Almost from the first 
moment that he began to investigate the case, he had a 
feeling that he might find the key to the mystery in the 
missing man's home. Hitherto he had had very little to say 
to Finch, the valet, but on this occasion he entered into a 
long conversation with him, and he was rather struck by 
the young man's flippancy, and the familiar way in which he 
spoke of his master. Finch, although not educated, was 
very &r, indeed, from being illiterate, and seemed possessed 
of unusual shrewdness, sharpness, and intelligence. He made 
very apparent efforts to place himself in a more important light 
than his position warranted. Trill was quick to lay hold of 
these points, and with an assumed artlessness he put the 
following test question. 

* Possibly, Finch, you know more of your master's habits 
and doings than you care to disclose ? ' 

* Well, sir,' answered Finch with a comical pomposity, 
* since you ask it, I don't mind telling you, under the rose, 
that I do.' 

Trill's dreamy eyes looked the speaker through and 
through, and he caught eagerly at the words, * under the 
rose.' In the telegram * under the Red Rose ' was used, and 
now Finch repeated the words with the exception of * red.' 
Was that repetition a mere coincidence, or had Finch 
unconsciously given himself away ? 

Trill did not betray by the slightest sign what was 
passing in his mind ; but knowing full well the value of 
every sign, however faint, he was not likely to be indifferent 
to this. He therefore set a watch upon Finch's movements, 
and this course revealed the curious facts that one evening 
Mr. Conrad Gifford, the art student, and Thomas Finch, 
the valet, supped together at a West End restaurant, and 
that Gifford was seen to hand his companion a Bank of 
England note, but the value of the note could not be 
ascertained. From this incident it was perfectly clear that 
between Gifford, who was supposed to be a friend of Spiel's, 
and the valet, there was some secret knowledge which broke 


down the barrier of social distinction and placed them on a 
common level. 

Up to this point TriU had not suspected Gifibrd of any 
complicity in Spiel's disappearance, although from the first 
he felt sure that Spiel was the victim of a conspiracy, and 
that some of the conspirators must have been well acquainted 
with his habits. But at last things began to shape them- 
selves, and the pieces of the puzzle were coming to his 
hand. What Tnll now thought was this : By some means 
or other Spiel had fallen into the power of a number of men 
who exercised a tyranny over him, and Gifiord and Finch 
were not ignorant of that, although it was possible Finch 
was only a tool. 

Trill's tactics were at once changed in accordance with 
the new developments. He avoided further intercourse with 
GifFord and Finch, and they were led to believe he had 
entirely abandoned his quest, or had become indifferent 
about it. But they reckoned without their host, and did 
not know the bulldog-like tenacity of the man when once he 
had got a grip. He might in the end be defeated, but 
defeat would have to be made unmistakably plain to him 
before he accepted it. He believed firmly in the theory that 
no man could propound a problem that another man could 
not solve, and no one knew better than he did that in dealr 
ing with human secrets it was the unexpected that generally 
gave the clue. At any rate, he was always keenly on the 
alert for the faintest sign, and never failed to avail himself of 
it if it was given. 

This watchfulness gave him at last another link to add 
to the chain he was so patiently putting together. It was, 
of course, the most natural thing in the world that, suspect- 
ing Gifford as he did, he should be at pains to learn a good 
deal of his comings and goings. He found that his conduct i 

was ^y no means exemplary. He was more than a little \ 

wild, and tended towards dissipation. One evening he dined | 

at a certain restaurant in the Strand in company with half a ^ 

dozen men whose twang and get-up proclaimed that they 
belonged to the United States, or at least had resir'^d there* { 


When they had finished dinner, during which they consumed 
a good deal of cheap wine, they crowded into two four-wheel 
cabs which lumbered along eastward until at London Bridge 
they crossed the Thames and proceeded to Bermondsey. 
After wending their way through many crowded and narrow 
streets they drew up at a public-house situated in an ill« 
smelling and frowsy neighbourhood, where hulking, blear- 
eyed men loafed at the street corners, and dirty, s&tternly 
women sat on the doorsteps, while unwashed, yelling brats 
of children swarmed like rats about an ofial heap. The time 
was early autumn. The night was dark and mild. 

The men who had come in the cabs alighted, paid the 
drivers, and entered the public-house, which bore the sign 
of the Ram's Horn. They went upstairs to a large room, 
evidently a club room, the entrance to which was guarded 
by a janitor, who demanded a password. The password was 
* Under the Red Rose.' 

Vincent Trill had dined in the same restaurant as the 
men, but, of course, unknown to them, he had followed the 
four-wheelers in a hansom, was at the heels of the men 
when they mounted the stairs to the club room, and he 
heard the password given. All this he had succeeded in 
doing without attracting attention, for in his movements he 
was as stealthy as a leopard when occasion called for it, and 
no one would have recognised Vincent Trill in the shabby- 
looking old man, with iron-grey beard and moustache, 
straggling grey hair, battered hat, down-at-heel boots, and 
rusty ^lack coat. 

The landlord of the Ram's Horn, when officially asked 
the next day for some particulars of the club that was helu 
in his house, stated that he knew little about it, but believed 
it was a benevolent association. One thing was clear. 
Conrad Gifford was a member of this precious club, and 

f Giffi>rd was on terms of intimacy with Thomas Finch, and 

had been seen to give Finch a considerable sum of money. 

» From the telegram which had been sent to Spiel, it was no 

less certain that he also had been a member of the club. Of 

> course, at that stage no arrests could have been made. 


because no charge could have been preferred against anyone, 
and Trill resolved, therefore, to learn the truth, if possible, 
from Finch, who was likely to turn traitor if he had been a 
mere tool of the others. Trill began by bluntly accusing 
him of being a party to Spiel's disappearance, and it was 
pointed out to him that severe punishment would be meted 
out if the suspicions against him should prove to be well 
founded. Finch, after all, turned out to be a very weak- 
minded young man, and was unable to assume the boldness 
which might have enabled him to pass safely through the 
ordeal he was then being subjected to. The result of that 
interview was in every way satisfactory to Trill, and the 
following day a warrant for Conrad Gifibrd's arrest was 
issued and executed. He was charged with others, not then 
known, with having forcibly abducted one Herman Spiel for 
some unbwful purpose. 

The arrest was so unexpected by Gifibrd that he was 
thunderstruck, and within a few hours, fearing that he might 
have to answer for the more serious crime of murder, he had 
given such information to the authorities that Mr. Spiel 
was rescued, more dead than alive, from a terrible den in one 
of the worst quarters of the East End of London, where he 
had been kept a close prisoner, and was in a pitiable condi- 
tion when released. As he resolutely and determinedly 
refused to prefer a charge against anyone, no prosecution 
took place and the matter was hushed up, but the following 
strange facts came to Trill's knowledge : 

Conrad GifFord had allied himself to a band of desperate 
adventurers, principally Irish Americans, who formed them- 
selves into a secret club with the object of planning and 
carrying out outrages in England and Scotland. He had 
managed to persuade Spiel to become a member of the club, 
though Spiel had no idea at the time of his first visit what 
kind of club it was. But having once visited it he was so 
far committed that he could not recede, and was solemnly 
assured that if he betrayed them he would be secretly assassi- 
nated. Although he had been a good friend to GifiR)rd, and 
had known him from his childhood, Gifibrd was madly 


jealous of him, because he believed he showed far too much 
attention to Mrs. Gifford. He therefore determined to have 
revenge, and began by telling the members of the club that 
Spiel was a traitor and meant to betray them. Spiel was, 
therefore, called upon to answer for his conduct, but the 
name of his accuser was not mentioned. He was summoned 
to the club on the very night of his disappearance. Previous 
to this GifFord had bribed Thomas Finch to act the part of 
spy, and inform him (GifFord) of the number of times his 
master visited Mrs. Gifford. On the eventful night four 
men, members of the club— whose password was * Under 
the red rose ' — were introduced into the house by Finch at 
Gifford's instigation, and when Spiel left Gifford's place to 
go down to his own rooms he was suddenly seized, gagged, 
and overpowered, carried quickly to the street, where a cab 
was waiting, and conveyed to the place where he was found ; 
and it came out that the object of the criminals was to 
ultimately get him confined in a private lunatic asylum. 
Another strange fact that was revealed was that Mrs. 
Gi£ford was Spiel's daughter, although her husband did not 
know that. She had never known her mother, but her 
father had always displayed the most tender regard for her. 
She had been brought up in New York under the care of a 
widow lady, and Spiel himself had brought her and her future 
husband together, but he had his reasons for concealing his 
own relationship to her. 

It is needless to say, perhaps, that the infamous club was 
broken up and its members dispersed. Gifford, unable to 
endure the shame and ignominy of his position, returned 
to America alone, as his wife refused to accompany him and 
decided to remain under the protection of her father. So 
ended this strange case, which at the time aroused a great 
amount of interest, and served once more to give point to 
the trite and true adage that * Truth is stranger than 



Harcourt & Jarvins were solicitors of the old-fashioned 
class, and carried on an extensive practice under the very 
shadow of the Chancery Courts in London. Here the firm 
had been established for a good deal over a hundred years, 
and their business dealt principally with conveyancing and 
real and freehold property. T'heir clients were, for the 
most part, people of position whose aflfairs were more or less 
intimately known to the firm, and Harcourt & Jarvins had 
probably drawn up more marriage settlements and wills than 
any other firm of the same standing in the city of London. 
However, it is not with these matters this story deals, 
and they are simply referred to as indicating the high and 
honourable position of the firm at the time the events I 
have now to record occurred. 

Amongst the firm's clients was a wealthy old bachelor 
gentleman named Bradfield, and he had deposited with them 
valuable securities to a very large amount, including some 
Brazilian four per cent. State bonds. One morning the 
firm received instructions from this client to sell these 
bonds and purchase certain other securities which he indicated. 
When the bonds were taken from the safe, where they had 
been lying for some time, the managing clerk was astonished 
to find that one, of the value in English money of five 
hundred pounds, was missing. 

The consternation caused in the ofEce by this discovery 
may be imagined ; it was, so to speak, like the shock of an 


earthquake ; and Mr. Harcourt, a venerable gentleman of 
seventy years of age, was almost distracted. It seemed to 
him as if the loss of this bond struck at the very roots of 
the firm's reputation. They were trusted to such an 
extent, they were considered so sound, so reliable, that 
many of their clients preferred to trust them with their 
deeds rather than deposit them at their bankers'. Mr. 
Harcourt, like his father before him, had been associated 
with the business nearly all his manhood's life, and through- 
out that long period nothing had ever happened calculated 
to cast the slightest blemish on the integrity of the firm. 
The employfe, like the heads of the firm themselves, were 
above suspicion, and it was the pride and boast of the firm that 
as the custodians of the secrets and the property of those 
who did business with them no man could rise up and 
justly point the finger of suspicion at them, and suggest 
that they had swerved fi-om the path of honour and duty. 
As may be supposed, the discovery of the loss of the bond 
led to an immediate and searching investigation being made, 
and the two heads, together with the old, respected, and 
confidential managing clerk, held a consultation and dis- 
cussed the matter in all seriousness. Twelve clerks altogether, 
of varying ages, were employed, and kept pretty busy owing 
to the firm's extensive connection, and the merits of each 
one of these twelve clerks were carefully weighed and 
examined, with the result that after long and anxious con- 
sideration nothing had been suggested that would justify* 
suspicion being harboured against any particular individual. 
Some of the junior clerks were necessarily very young, but 
one and all, old and young alike, were trusted and had the 
firm's confidence. And yet there was the hard, stern feet 
to fece that a valuable security was missing from what 
seemed to be a perfectly safe repository. The property of 
that client had not been disturbed or looked at, so fer as 
was known, for some time, but it was agreed that when the 
deed box containing the securities was last opened every- 
thing was intact ; not a paper of any kind was missing. 

How came it, then, that so important a document as a 



State bond could have been abstracted in the interim ? 
The question was in the nature of a problem, and appa- 
rently there was no possibility of a solution at that moment* 
It was decided at last by the two members of the firm 
and the managing clerk that all the employes should be 
called into the chiefs room and questioned, for though not 
one of the three cared to so much as vaguely insinuate 
that one of those employ^ must have been guilty 
of stealing the bond, it seemed self-evident that only a 
person having a knowledge of the firm and its ways could 
have taken the bond away* That is to say, a stranger 
couldn't possibly have done it, for the strong room had not 
been forced. When the examination and questioning of the 
clerks had come to an end poor old Mr. Harcourt expressed 
himself as being mystified, and he declared that he could not 
conscientiously say any of his servants had aroused his mis- 
givings. Indeed, one and all exhibited the greatest conster- 
nation, for they prided themselves on being in the service of 
a firm of such repute. 

Of course, it was necessary that something should be 
done. The value of the bond would at once be paid to the 
client, but something more than that was required. It was 
of the highest importance that the thief, if there was a thief 
in the matter, should be discovered, for the confidence 
hitherto existing between employers and employed was now 
rudely destroyed, and could not be re-established until the 
mystery had been cleared up. The employed were them- 
selves emphatic in demanding that no stone should be left 
unturned with a view to eliminating the thief from their 
midst, if he was amongst them, for until he was found they 
were all under the dark shadow of doubt, and every man felt 
uneasy and miserable. At last, after many suggestions, the 
managing clerk proposed that Vincent Trill should be asked 
to exercise his faculties and try to weed out the black sheep. 
As the partners acquiesced in this proposal Trill was sent 
for and placed in possession of the fiicts^ and he undertook 
to thoroughly investigate the matter. A few days later, 
however, Mr. Jarvins, to the relief and surprise, no less than 


the delight, of everyone, announced that he had by the 
merest chance in the world discovered the missing bond 
amongst a number of old, mouldy, and dust-covered legal 
documents stowed away on a shelf, which were supposed not 
to have been disturbed for months, if not for years. But, 
sure enough, the bond was produced, and there was rejoic- 
ing in consequence. Mr. Jarvins' statement was that in 
searching for a paper which was known to be on the shelf, 
to his amazement he saw the bond. 

Now came the question, How did it get on the shelf ? 
Nobody knew ; nobody could say, nobody even suggested 
how ; but there was a general feeling that it had been taken 
up inadvertently with other papers and unknowingly de- 
posited where it was found. If that was the true explana- 
tion it argued carelessness, but that was all ; and the bond 
having been found the heads were hot disposed to greatly 
concern themselves about trying to solve a seemingly im- 
possible problem. So Trill was duly notified, confidence 
was again restored in the firm, and the even tenor of 
things went on as usual. 

A year or more passed after this little episode, when the 
startling announcement was made that a large number of 
fraudulent Brazilian bonds had been purchased by an outside 
broker in an extensive way of business in Liverpool. The 
broker's name was Haslam, trading as Haslam & Co. He 
had been established for many years, and was known to be 
highly respectable ; and though an * outsider,* he did an ex- 
tensive and most lucrative business. It appeared, according 
to his statement, that one morning an elegantly-dressed lady, 
apparently about thirty years of age, drove up to his ofHces 
in a brougham, drawn by a pair of splendid horses. Her 
card bore the name of * Mrs. Hester Rigby,' and the address, 
* Old Hall, Aintree.* She refused to state the nature of her 
business to anyone in the office, and insisted on seeing 
the principal, Mr. Haslam, himself. When at last she was 
ushered into his presence she appeared greatly distressed, and 
she stated that she was the holder of several Brazilian four per 
cent, bonds, the aggregate value of which amounted to over 


fifteen thousand pounds, and she requested to know if Mr. 
Haslam could at once realise on them for her, as circumstances 
which she did not feel called upon to mention rendered it 
imperatively necessary that she should be in possession of 
several thousand pounds without delay. Mr. Haslam replied 
that it was his business to buy and sell stocks and shares, 
and all sorts of valuable securities in the shape of bonds, &c., 
and that he had no doubt he could sell the Brazilians for 
her in the course of a week. But she insisted that she 
must realise immediately, and requested that a clerk might 
be sent to her carriage, which waited outside, to bring a bag 
which he would find there on the seat. This was ac- 
cordingly done, and from the bag she produced the bonds. 
After some little hesitation, Mr. Haslam undertook to 
purchase them at their market value, subject to a slightly 
extra commission being paid, and to hand her a cheque for 
them the following day if she would call about twelve 
o'clock. She seemed reluctant to fall in with that arrange- 
ment, but at last consented, so the bonds were left with 
the broker, a detailed receipt was handed to her, together 
with a preliminary agreement to purchase, and she drove 

The following day, almost on the stroke of twelve, she 
reappeared. In the meantime the bonds had been examined, 
and nothing was noted calculated to arouse suspicion, so a 
cheque was made out for her, together with the usual form 
of transfer, which was duly signed and witnessed. The 
transaction was carried through by the manager, as Mr. 
Haslam was out of town. The fair customer particularly 
requested that the cheque should not be crossed, and this 
request was complied with. The matter being thus 
completed, the lady, who was described as singularly fasci- 
nating, and of unusual sharpness and shrewdness, with a 
most business-like manner, shook hands with the manager 
and took her departure. As was subsequently ascertained, 
she went direct to the bank on which the cheque had been 
drawn, and obtained the money, in notes and gold. There 
is no doubt that during the ensuing few days most of the 


notes, if not all of them, were converted into gold, and then 
the ^cinating lady mysteriously disappeared. It seems 
almost incredible — but many seemingly incredible things do 
happen every day in a business way — that Mr. Haslam and 
his manager should have been deceived by these bonds, for a 
week after their purchase, on their being placed in the hands 
of a member of the Stock Exchange for realisation, they 
were pronounced to be forgeries and returned post haste to 
Haslam's care. That gentleman's consternation was great, 
and without a moment's loss of time he communicated with 
the police, and two men were sent with all speed to Old 
Hall, Aintree. It was an ancient house, standing in extensive 
grounds, but was then silent and deserted. It is needless to 
say no Mrs. Hester Rigby was found there. But it was 
ascertained that a lady giving that name had entered into an 
agreement to rent the house for twelve months with option 
of renewal. The rent was to be two hundred pounds, and 
when the owner asked for references the lady at once 
offered to pay the year's rent in advance. As the house 
had been very long empty, the landlord felt that he was in 
luck's way. Some few articles of furniture were sent in 
and the lady took up her abode there, but it was only too 
obvious that she intended it to be a very temporary abiding 
place indeed. The swell carriage and spanking pair of 
horses were hired from the largest livery stables in Liverpool, 
and having thus made her arrangements the fair lady pro- 
ceeded to hoodwink the too confiding broker, and having 
possessed herself of the fruits of her cleverness she went 
forth and left no trace behind. The police, after the 
manner of their kind, tried their best to get on the scent, 
but utterly failed, and then Vincent Trill was asked to take 
up the running. Almost from the first moment it struck 
him as probable, even strongly probable, that there was some 
mysterious connection between the missing bond in Harcourt 
& Jarvins' offices twelve months ago and the sale of these 
forged bonds to Mr. Haslam in Liverpool. Of course, it 
was most difficult at that stage to give shape and form to the 
connection^ but the present event somehow seen^ed to thrQ\Y 


a light on the past events, and as Trill ruminated he 
couldn't help thinking that the bond which was found on 
the shelf in Harcourt & Jarvins* office did not get there by 
accident, but was placed there by design. The idea led him 
to make inquiries as to the number and some other details of 
that particular bond, and then to his astonishment, and yet 
not altogether to his astonishment, he found that the 
Liverpool bogus bonds bore consecutive numbers beginning 
with the number following the one in possession of Harcourt 
& Jarvins. This was a discovery which he knew how to 
value, and it afforded him the clue that he wanted, or, at 
any rate, a clue, though perhaps a slender one. He did not 
waste much time in Liverpool. He knew that to look for 
signs there would be as fruitless as to search for footsteps in 
desert sand. The pretty bird who had charmed Mr. 
Haslam so effectually had flown completely away. She might 
have been a principal or she might have been a mere tool, 
but whichever she was it was obvious she could not have 
prepared the fiaudulent bonds herself, and the fact of her 
taking a house and paying a year's rent in advance, and hiring 
a swell brougham and pair, pointed to a well-thought-out 
scheme and conspiracy. The request for the open cheque, 
too, and the conversion of the bank notes into gold, were 
also confirmation strong of a conspiracy, and though * Mrs. 
Hester Rigby ' was nothing more than a tool in the hands 
of skilful rascals, there could be no doubt she was a woman 
of no ordinary calibre, but a very clever one, wonderfully 
adroit, self-possessed, and tactful. 

The furniture that had been sent into the Old Hall to 
Mrs. Hester Rigby's orders was still there. There was not 
much of it. It had been purchased at a Liverpool furniture 
dealer's and paid for. Beyond this furniture there wasn't a 
scrap of anything else except a heap of refuse and rubbish in 
the dust bin. This dust bin had an attraction for Trill, 
under the circumstances, and he subjected it to a very 
critical examination. There were some broken bottles, 
some rags of various kinds, old boots and shoes, decaying 
vegetable and animal xnatter intermixed with ashes, and 


scraps of torn letters. With commendable patience and 
infinite perseverance Trill rooted out every scrap of paper 
bearing writing he could get hold of, and then he set to 
work to put them in such order that the writing could be 
read. It was very much like trying to fit together the 
pieces of a complicated Chinese puzzle, and it was only with 
a vague hope that something might result from his labours 
that Trill worked. Long experience had taught him how 
clues were to be sought for in the most unlikely places ; 
and he had learnt how valuable even minute fragments of 
writing might sometimes prove. But for this he would not 
have concerned himself with picking morsels of paper from 
the unsavoury dust heap. 

After long trying he succeeded in getting together a 
number of scraps containing writing, and evidently pieces of 
a letter, and after careful arrangement the following could 
be read : 

greatest care caution safety depends 

flight. Remember avoid suspicion. You 

clever every possible in you risk is 

tremendous succeed good thing I 

yours, beloved, ever and ever, 


These words were suggestive in themselves, but Trill 
set to work to find appropriate sentences to fill into the 
blanks, and at last it seemed to him that this came nearest 
to what was in the writer's mind at the time he penned the 
letter : 

* You must exercise the greatest care, for on your caution 
our safety depends. As soon as the work [task, job] is 
accomplished [carried out, completed] take your flight. 

* Remember at all costs to avoid arousing suspicion. You 
are so very clever that I have every possible confidence in 
you ; at the same time don't forget the risk is tremendous, 
but if you [we] succeed it will be [we shall have done] a 
good thing. I am yours, my well beloved, for ever and 


This gave the disjointed words form and meaning, and 
though probably it differed very materially from the original 
it conveyed the sense. There was nothing to indicate to 
whom the letter was addressed, but it was obvious that the 
recipient was a woman, and the writer her lover, or just 
possibly her husband, but more likely her lover, as husbands 
do not usually end their letters as that one ended. 

Trill attached great importance to these scraps of paper, 
and he had the writing carefully photographed, and then 
commenced what on the face of it seemed the hopeless task 
of trying to trace the writer. He weighed over all the pros 
and cons of his theory as to there being a connection between 
the incident of the missing bond in Harcourt & Jarvins' 
office, London, and the sale of the forged bonds in Liverpool, 
and he could come to no other conclusion than that his 
theory had in it all the elements of probability, even strong 
probability ; and given that that was correct it was equally 
probable that somebody in Harcourt Sc Jarvins' office could 
throw a good deal of light on the matter if he was so dis- 
posed. The sequential step which Trill felt impelled to 
take in working out his theory was to see if the handwriting 
of the letter he had rescued from the dust bin was identical 
with the handwriting of anyone in Harcourt & Jarvins' 
office. That of course required a good deal of tact and diplo- 
macy, but he was equal to the situation. His suspicions were 
carefully concealed from everyone, and neither Harcourt 
nor his partner had an inkling of what was in the detective's 
mind. Trill knew how exceedingly valuable silence was in 
such cases, for the slightest publicity meant that the offender 
was put on his guard. 

Vincent Trill spent a fortnight on this part of his investi- 
gation, and then one night he quietly slipped out of town 
and travelled by the South-Eastern boat train for Paris, 
where he spent a day, and then left for the Riviera and 
Monte Carlo. Between London and Paris a most casual 
acquaintance would have had no difficulty whatever in 
recognising him, for as Vincent Trill he was a very striking 
and conspicuous-looking man ; but his own another would 


have failed to recognise her son in the heavy-moustached, be- 
spectacled, towzle-headed, red-feced-looking German pro- 
fessor who took his seat in a first-class compartment of the 
Paris-Lyons train bound for Marseilles. 

Three days later this heavy German professor sat on a 
seat on one of the terraces in the paradisaical gardens of 
Monte Carlo, overlooking the Mediterranean. The scene 
was a dream of beauty. The time was the beginning of 
February, and the blue sea was like a tranquil lake dotted 
here and there with the white wings of some pleasure yacht. 
The air was languid with the perfume of a thousand different 
flowers, and overhead the regal sun shone in the turquoise 
sky, which was cloudless save for a few fleecy films. The 
palm trees were slightly stirred by a languorous breeze, and 
somewhere in the gardens the splendid band of the Casino 
was playing selections from * Alfda.' The whole mise'en-scine 
was beauteous in the extreme and suggestive of peace, 
purity^ goodness, and innocence. But above in the upper 
gardens was the Casino, the festering canker in the Paradise ; 
while beneath the smiling faces of the men and women who 
promenaded up and down beat many an aching heart ; and 
the smiles in a number of cases served but to hide hatred, 
bitterness, greed, and all uncharitableness. 

The professor lolled in his seat in a drowsy attitude, and 
a long cigar he held between his lips had apparently gone 
out. A passer-by might have thought he was asleep, but he 
was far from sleeping : he was wakeful and watchful, and 
through his large spectacles, which did not magnify, his 
dreamy eyes followed the movements of a lady and gentle- 
man who promenaded up and down on the terrace before 
him. The lady was a handsome, elegantly-dressed woman 
about thirty, and her companion was much about her own 
age. He was clean shaved, was fashionably dressed, wore 
patent leather boots, and in his button-hole had a bunch of 
gardenias and stephanotis with maidenhair fern. His gloves 
were without a wrinkle and light canary in colour. He 
toyed daintily with a cigar, and under his arm carried a gold- 
headed cane. His companion screened her dainty complexion 


from the sun with a white silk parasol covered with rich 
lace and lined with the most delicate shade of pink. Her 
lace-covered silken skirts made a pleasant frou-frou as she 
strolled backwards and forwards on the well-kept path, and 
her little feet in the most dainty of slippers danced in and 
out beneath her frills. Occasionally she looked up into her 
companion's face with an expression of trust and love, and 
her pretty lips would part in a self-satisfied smile, revealing 
fiiultless teeth. To a superficial observer this young couple 
would have seemed the embodiment of happy, careless, 
joyous life ; and they would have been set down as a newly 
married pair on their honeymoon, wanting nothing that the 
world could give them that was calculated to make their 
lives pangless and bright. But a closer observer would have 
noted that the man's face was not free from care, and there 
was a restless, hunted appearance about the eyes which 
indicated too surely mental worry and strain. 

In this man and woman the professor was deeply 
interested, but for any notice they took of him he might 
have been part and parcel of the seat on which he sat. 

For a week longer the young couple remained in Monte 
Carlo. They stayed at the very best hotel. They ftired 
sumptuously. They spent their evenings in the Casino, 
and the man staked heavily in the trente-et^uarante room, 
sometimes winning and sometimes losing. At last they 
took their departure from Monte Carlo, and having spent a 
day in Nice, a day in Cannes, and another in Marseilles, they 
travelled on to Paris, where the lady rented a small but 
elegant flat in one of the side streets running out of the 
Champs Elys6es. The professor had followed them so far, 
but there he left them and returned to London. 

Vincent Trill's visit to the Continent had placed him in 
possession of some important facts bearing on the great bond 
frauds, and the day following his return to London he sought 
an interview with Mr. Harcourt, of the firm of Harcourt & 
Jarvins. A statement which he was compelled to make to 
that gentleman caused the latter to turn deathly pale and 
gasp for breath, as if he were suffocating. When the first 


shock had passed he ran his long, thin fingers through his 
scant grey hair and ejaculated : 

* Impossible ! * 

^ I wish, Mr. Harcourt, I could think it was impossible/ 
said Trill sympathetically ; * but it*s too true, I am sorry to say.* 

Mr. Harcourt covered his face with his hands for some 
moments. He was suffering the keenest anguish, and his 
long and honourable life seemed to be closing in deep, dark 
shadows. Presently he spoke again. His voice was weak 
and flickering. 

* Mr. Trill,' he said, * you must do your duty, and, with 
the help of God, I shall do mine. The shock of this 
discovery has given me my death-blow — I feel and know 
that ; but in my dying moments I shall be able to lay my 
hand on my heart and say solemnly that I have wronged 
no man.' 

A few days after this interview the gentleman who had 
been with the handsome lady at Monte Carlo was in London, 
and within a few hours he was arrested under a warrant 
which stated that he was suspected of being a party to an 
extensive fraud and forgery in connection with some spurious 
Brazilian bonds. Almost at the same moment the lady, 
whom he had left in Paris at her flat, was arrested there in 
the name of Madame Danvers, alias Hester Rigby, on the 
same charge and at the request of the authorities of Scotland 
Yard. The man's name was given as John Jarrold Jarvins, 
and he was described as a solicitor, of Chancery Lane and 
Hyde Park Gardens. A few hours later a second man was 
^ept into the net. He was a Pole named Scoboski, a 
native of Warsaw, naturalised in England, by trade an 
engraver ; and before that week had ended a third man 
came within grip of the law. His name was Ronald Griflin. 
He was described as a stockbroker, and was charged as 
being an accessory to the fraud. John Jarrold Jarvins was 
Mr. Harcourt's partner. He had been taken in as partner 
on the death of his father, who had been dead two years. 

Young Jarvins had led a somewhat wild youth, and at 
college had made himself conspicuous by his extravagances 


and excesses. During the time that he was reading for the 
law, however, he seemed to improve, although it was known 
that he had a passion for horse-racing. Nevertheless, great 
hopes were formed of him, both by his father and his father's 
partner, but unhappily these hopes were not destined to be 
fulfilled. He made the acquaintance of a lady, the wife of a 
military officer, whose husband was abroad. She was a 
woman of most luxurious tastes and costly habits, and on 
her account her lover plunged deeper and deeper into debt. 
Although Nature had endowed her with a handsome face 
and perfect figure, she was as wicked and unprincipled as she 
was handsome and clever. What her origin was nobody 
seemed to know, but for many years she had followed the 
profession of an actress, and in that capacity she first met 
her husband. Although her career had been shady he 
married her, notwithstanding the protests of his friends. She 
had passed under various names, but was associated with 
Jarvins as Madame Danvers and Hester Rigby. Finding 
himself ultimately in very serious financial difficulties, young 
Jarvins conceived the desperate and terrible idea of forging 
certain bonds ; and he entered into a conspiracy with Ronald 
Griffin, who had been in business as a stockbroker, but 
had sufiered a term of imprisonment for the misappropriation 
of funds entrusted to his care ; and with Scoboski, who was a 
very clever engraver and lithographer ; and a third man 
named Albert Poitrine, a Frenchman, who had since died. 

The plan of these men was to imitate and forge foreign 
bonds, and in this work Scoboski's artistic talents were likely 
to prove invaluable. They commenced operations with 
Brazilian bonds, and the one that was missed from the safe 
in Harcourt & Jarvins' office had no doubt been abstracted 
by young Jarvins in order that it might be copied ; but its 
absence, unfortunately for him, was discovered before he 
could replace it. A large number of bonds had been 
prepared ; and at the suggestion of Ronald Griffin the lady 
who called herself Mrs. Hester Rigby went down to 
Liverpool, where by her cleverness she was enabled to 
impose so successfully on Mr. Haslam. It was while she 


was in Liverpool that Jarvins wrote the letter to her, pieces 
of which Trfll recovered from the ash-pit at the Old Hall, 
Aintree. His shrewdness in suspecting that the incident of 
the missing bond in Harcourt & Jarvins' office had some 
relation to the sale of the forged bonds in Liverpool led to 
his discovering that the writing on the recovered scraps of 
paper was identical with Mr Jarvins'. Further inquiry led 
to his learning that Mr. Jarvins was taking a holiday and 
spending it at Monte Carlo. Of course. Trill had a full 
and detailed description of * Mrs. Hester Rigby,' and when 
he arrived at Monte Carlo he had no difficulty in recognising 
her in the person of Jarvins' companion. 

In due course the plotters were placed before a jury of 
their countrymen. Hester Rigby, alias Danvers, and 
various other aliases, was placed in the dock with her 
companions in guilt, her extradition from France having 
been demanded and granted. From the position of two of 
the parties at least, the trial, which spread over four days, 
caused a great sensation, and the struggle for places in the 
court was almost unprecedented. A verdict of * Guilty ' was 
returned against all the accused, although they were not all 
considered to be guilty in the same degree. Jarvins and 
Griffin were, as the ringleaders, sentenced to a long term 
of imprisonment. Scoboski, as a mere tool, got off with 
two years ; and the handsome Hester, who was regarded as 
being entirely under the influence of her lover, escaped with 
the light penalty of twelve months. It was said that her good 
looks and fascinating manner prevailed over judge and jury 

Poor Mr. Harcourt did not long survive the disgrace 
which had been brought upon his firm by the rascality of 
his unworthy partner, and within a few weeks from the 
guilty persons being sentenced he sank into his grave. 




The annals of evil deeds furnish us with many startling 
examples of the extremes to which human wickedness is 
capable of going, and one is often tempted to smile grimly 
at the cant which tells us that we are better, purer-minded, 
and freer from evil than were our fore&thers of a century 
ago. Students of humanity, however, know full well that 
man is as degenerate as ever he was, and they entertain no 
doubt that he is likely to remain what he is until the end of 
time. It is not a pleasant reflection for those zealots who 
preach the doctrine of increasing peace and goodwill ; but 
theory and practice almost invariably clash, and hard, stern 
facts permit of no quibbling. As a complicated and 
mysterious crime, the case of the Hon. Peter Hipshaw is 
hard to beat, and it might almost be taken as a text whereon 
to found a sermon on man's never-ending iniquity. 

Mr. Peter Hipshaw was the youngest son of an aristo- 
cratic father, who, as a very keen politician, greatly distin- 
guished himself during Lord Palmerston's administration. 
The family, however, though aristocratic, were poor, and in 
a relative sense certain ancestors had made ducks and drakes 
of the estates, and each successor found himself more heavily 
encumbered than his predecessor. Nevertheless Peter 
received an excellent education, and went from one of the 
great public schools to Cambridge, where, without displaying 
any great brilliancy, he succeeded in taking his degree with 
honour, and was forthwith entered for the diplomatic service. 


and in due course — thanks to his father's great influence 
— was appointed an attache to our Ambassador in Paris. But 
previous to this it had been deemed advisable by those 
interested in him that he should travel^ and thus gain a 
practical knowledge of the world. He thus spent two years 
in drifting about, and during that time he went through 
Canada, wandered extensively in Persia, India, and China, 
took a glance at Japan, Java, and the Straits Settlements, 
and returned home vid San Francisco and New York. 

Mr. Hipshaw was a very well-favoured young man. He 
had a grace of person and a charm of manners that caused 
his company to be much sought after, and so polished, 
courteous, and chivalrous was he that he became in time to 
be familiarly referred to as * Gentleman Hipshaw.' 

So much as an introduction to what follows. Years 
passed and the Hon. Peter Hipshaw plodded on in a humdrum 
way, and quite failed to justify the predictions that were 
made at the commencement of his career, to the effect that 
he would greatly distinguish himself in the service. But 
ten years found him precisely what he was at the start. He 
had not advanced a peg, and though a general favourite in 
the service, he was regarded as a * one-grooved man,' with- 
out ambition and without desire. It seemed, so far as he 
was concerned, once an attachi^ always an attach/. He 
had been shifted about a good deal. A couple of years in 
Paris ; then a year or two in Persia ; next in Russia, where 
he fell ill, and was invalidjcd for a time. After that in 
Washington, and then followed another journey of pleasure 
to the East, during which he visited some of the South Sea 
Islands ; and, finally, he settled down once more in his 
^ beloved Paris.' He was wont to say that of all places in 
the world he had visited, he loved Paris best. 

He had, so far as was known, during this period of his 
career shown himself proof against the wiles and blandish- 
ments of the opposite sex. He chose to remain single. 
His reasons were his own. It was noted that he did not 
make many confidants, and even to his most intimate friends 
he was somewhat of a sealed book. 


All the foregoing particulars, which in rough outline 
represent the story of his life, were brought to light and 
made more or less public by the subsequent events which 
have now to be narrated. 

After a rather prolonged absence from England he had 
revisited London to spend Christmas there, and to settle 
some business with his lawyers in connection with a small 
property to which he had succeeded through the death of a 
relative. He prolonged his stay in the British Metropolis 
until well on in January, when he left on his return journey 
to Paris. He crossed with some acquaintances who happened 
to be going over to France at the same time. The weather 
was unusually fine and mild for the time of year, and during 
the run across Channel the party sat on deck and smoked. 

On reaching Paris the friends separated, promising to 
dine together at the Maison d'Or the following evening. 
Hipshaw drove to his apartments in the Rue Monceau, 
and the concierge greeted him as he gave him entrance. 
Hipshaw complained of being very tired, and said he was 
not to be disturbed until eleven o'clock, as he did not intend to 
go to the Embassy until one. His apartments were in charge 
of and looked after by an elderly woman known as Madame 
Pantin, and he was in the habit of having his morning meals 
sent in from a neighbouring restaurant. Madame Pantin 
slept in the basement, and on being informed by the concierge 
on the following morning what Hipshaw's wishes were with 
regard to not being disturbed until eleven o'clock she did not 
go to his chambers until that hour, and she was accompanied 
by a waiter from the restaurant with the breakftist. 

Madame was surprised to find that the door giving 
entrance to the passage of his house was not closed and 
yielded immediately to her touch when she was about to 
msert her latchkey. She mentally rated * Monsieur' for 
being so careless as to leave his door ajar, for, of course, lots 
of strangers, tradesmen and others, came up and down the 
stairs when the business of the day began. Hipshaw's rooms 
were on the third stage or storey, and there were four more 
storeys above him. A hurried glance round the salon and 


breakfast-room reassured the housekeeper, for there were no 
apparent signs of anyone having taken advantage of the un- 
latched door to intrude. Having seen the breakfast dulv 
arranged on the table, she proceeded to knock at Hipshaw s 
bedroom door. There was no response, so she knocked 
again, and again, and again, with the same result. Then, 
thinking that her employer must be sleeping unusually well, 
she turned the handle — it yielded, and she pushed the door 
and peeped in. The heavy curtains of the window were 
closely drawn, shrouding the room in complete darkness, 
but in a few moments, when her eyes had grown accustomed 
to the gloom, she thought she perceived something white on 
the floor. She hurried to the window, and drew the 
curtains, letting in a flood of light. Then she gave vent to 
a piercing scream and rushed precipitately from the apart- 
ment, and fled to the concierge with the tidings that 
Monsieur Hipshaw was lying on the floor of his bedroom, 
dead, and that his shirt was crimson with blood. 

It so chanced that a policeman was standing on the pave- 
ment opposite the doorway, and he was at once communi- 
cated with, and he and the concierge and Madame Pantin 
returned to find the report only too true. Hipshaw was 
lying partly on his left side, his legs drawn up ; he was face 
downwards, his left arm under his forehead, his right arm 
extended at length, the hand being firmly clenched. He 
was partly undressed, having only his trousers and shirt on, 
and the shirt was soaked with blood. It was a terrible sight, 
and the afirighted trio withdrew without touching the body ; 
and while the policeman waited on the landing, a message 
was despatched immediately to the Central Police Station, 
to a doctor who resided opposite, and to the British 

The doctor, who knew Hipshaw, was the first to arrive, 
and, without moving the body, he applied his fingers to the 
wrist and immediately pronounced life to be extinct, and 
the rigidity and coldness proved that the man had been dead 
for some hours. 

Very soon there came a troop of officials, according to 


French custom, for French law is painfully formal and 
irritatingly circumlocutory. A gentleman from the Embassy 
also joined the group, and the police doctor, who had come 
in with the officials, proceeded to make an examination of the 
prostrate man. Dead he was, beyond all doubt, and he was 
dead because he had been murdered. That fact was just as 
certain as his death, for a gaping wound in the back, 
between the shoulder blades, spoke of a dagger thrust. 
Probably the heart had been injured. At any rate, the lung 
must have been pierced, and the victim had rapidly lost 
consciousness and bled to death. 

It needed no expert to determine that the wound was a 
knife wound, that it was a physical impossibility for any man 
to inflict such a wound upon himself. The matter-of-fact 
officials carefully took down all these details and particulars ; 
then, with mathematical minuteness, proceeded to examine 
the room, and to search for the weapon with which the deed 
had been done. But all the care and minuteness and all 
the searching failed to bring that to light. The next step 
was to search the rest of the house, and the final one in the 
preliminary investigation was to seal up the dead man's 
effects, put the official seal on the door, and retire. 

It is perhaps needless to say that in a few hours Paris rang 
with the crime, and the ring was echoed in London a little 
later. The Hon. Peter Hipshaw was not an eminent man, 
and to the general public was not known at all ; but all the 
same he was a public servant ; he was an attach^ to the Paris 
Embassy, and that fact enhanced the interest taken in his 
death. Besides that, it was murder — there wasn't a doubt 
on that point — ^and murder of a very mysterious kind, for as 
the investigation proceeded it was made clear as the light of 
noon that Hipshaw had been foully done to death by an 
assassin's hand, and no trace of the knife or the assassin was 

The post-mortem examination proved that the victim 
had been stabbed by a powerful thrust with a long and 
probably narrow-bladed knife — in all probability a stiletto. 
It had cruelly ripped into the lung, producing such mortal 

Murder of hon. peter hipsmaw 149 

mischief during its lightning-like passage that death was a 
mere question of minutes, if not moments. 

No time was lost in sending over Vincent Trill, who was 
charged with the task of making an independent investigation 
of this strange case. Trill was well known to the Paris police ; 
he spoke French with perfect fluency, and was well acquainted 
with Paris life. His French confreres therefore welcomed 
him, and every facility was placed in his way to enable him, 
if possible, to unravel the mystery — for mystery it certainly 
was. Plunder was evidently not the object of the crime, 
and at that stage it was most difficult to define the object. 
Within a very short time of leaving his friend with whom 
he had journeyed from England, and within half an hour of 
entering his premises, Peter Hipshaw had been done to 
death, and the assassin had probably been lying in wait for 
him. Mr. Hipshaw had a great objection to be bothered 
with luggage, and when he travelled between France and 
England he never took anything beyond a handbag and a 
rug, as he always kept a supply of clothes in London. 
When he had arrived at his chambers in Paris, the door- 
keeper had offered to carry the bag upstairs for him, but as 
the hour was so late Peter declined the offer. The bag 
was found open in his room ; he had taken out his razors 
and shaving tackle and nightshirt, and had obviously com- 
menced to undress, having divested himself of his coat, vest, 
and collar and necktie when the fatal blow was struck. From 
that it was reasonable to suppose the assassin had taken him 
entirely unawares. The deadly work must have been done 
like a flash, for there was no sign of a struggle having taken 
place. Numerous odds and ends of value were in the room, 
which the murderer might have carried off had robbery been 
his motive, and in the open handbag was a sum of money 
in notes and gold amounting to over 20/. It appeared that 
Madame. Pantin slept at the very top of the house, but 
knowing that her employer was returning home, she had 
gone to his rooms the last thing — that was, a little before 
midnight. She had lit the gas-stove in the bedroom, in 
order to warm tJie apartment ; had drawn the curtains and 


turned down the bed, and put his slippers ready. She had 
spent nearly the whole day in his place, tidying and cleaning 
up, and putting thick winter curtains at all the windows. 
At six o'clock she went out and spent the evening with a 
married daughter, returning about half-past eleven. Then 
it was she went to Hipshaw's room to light the gas-stove and 
prepare the bed. There wasn't the feintest sign then of 
any stranger having been in. 

Trill subjected the premises to a very minute scrutiny. 
He was not so much concerned as to how the assassin got in, as 
to how he got out. As stated, the housekeeper found the door 
ajar when she went down in the morning, and an examina- 
tion revealed the stains of bloody fingers on the finger-plate. 
So far it was plain sailing. The murderer, having completed 
the work he came to do, left the house by the doorway and 
found himself on the landing. From thence where did he 
go to ? How did he escape ? He did not go downstairs 
and pass the conciergis dormitory. So much was placed 
beyond question. 

At the end of Hipshaw's landing was a window opening 
like a door, as most French windows do. Trill searched 
for traces of that window having been recently opened and 
found them. The same blood-stained fingers which had 
left their impress on the door-plate had slightly marked the 
muslin curtains. The window was at the back of the 
house. It was forty-eight feet from the ground. Between 
the window and the ground there was no break of any 
kind. At the bottom was a paved courtyard, surrounded 
by a range of stables belonging to a cab proprietor. If the 
assassin had gone out that way he must have flown down or 
jumped down. In the latter case he would have been 
pulverised and smashed. But there was one other way he 
might have got down. And Trill, having seen the feasibility 
of this, promptly proceeded to look for signs, and his search 
was rewarded. Running straight down the wall from top 
to bottom of the building was a stout soil pipe. That pipe 
passed within a foot of the window. A daring and active 
man, endowed with unusuaLstrength, could reach the ground 


by means of that pipe. And when a ladder had been 
procured and the pipe carefully examined, there were 
unmistakable traces of the descent. There were marks of 
boot-nails on the wall and marks of fingers on the pipe 

This discovery made other things pretty clear. One 
was, the murder was deliberately planned, and the assassin 
had carefully studied beforehand his means of exit. An- 
other deduction that left no room for doubt was that the 
criminal was a man who was endowed with iron nerves, a 
cool head, and the muscles of a Samson. Another discovery 
was also made which placed in Trill's hands a powerful clue. 
In the stableyard near where the soil pipe passed below the 
ground there was found the half of the blade of a dagger. 
It bore red stains, which were presumably blood, and the 
medical opinion was that the wound in Hipshaw's body had 
been inflicted by such a weapon. The finding of this piece 
of the weapon suggested that the murderer had, previous to 
descending the pipe, stuck the dagger in his belt. In the 
course of his descent it caught in some projection, and was 
broken off. A close examination of the piece of blade 
brought to light the fact that a name had been somewhat 
crudely scratched on it, but the letters were nearly ef&ced. 
A strong magnifying glass, however, enabled Trill to decipher 
these letters — P.e.p.e. H.i.l.Lo. They formed the very 
curious name, Pepe Hillo, which proved to be Spanish. 
And the French police found that they had in their black 
list one Pepe Hillo, described as of Spanish nationality ; a 
ruffian of the worst class, powerful, brutal, and ferocious. 
He had served ten years of 'travaux forces' for half- 
miurdering a woman with whom he lived. It now became 
necessary to search for Pepe Hillo. And the most likely 
place to find him was in that terrible haunt of vice, 
Montmartre, one of the fouUest spots in all Europe, and the 
home of some of its most awful human devils — men and 
women — the world contains. 

On the northern slopes of Montmartre are gloomy 
stretches of waste ground, traversed by unfrequented roads, 


and dotted here and there with reeking, fetid dens which 
the ghouls inhabit. In this dreary and hcMTible quarter of 
' stately and beautiful Paris ' is a vile hell, known as the 
^ Moulin de la Galette/ so called, perhaps, because there are 
three or four windmills in the neighbourhood, and the 
French for mill is ^ moulin/ 

The Moulin de la Galette is a public dancing-place of 
the very lowest kind, and the awful specimens of humanity 
who frequent it will scarcely bear describing ; while the 
scenes that are enacted have scarcely any parallel elsewhere. 
On a Sunday night it is in full swing. Then all the villainy 
is congregated from the noisome alleys and courts of 
Montmartre, from the reeking dens of La Villette, and the 
fortifications and leprous holes of Saint Ouen. To study 
the awful faces of all these creatures is to beget in one a 
doubt whether God did create all mankind or not. 

In this vile place, one Sunday night about a fortnight 
after the assassination of the Hon. Peter Hipshaw, two men, 
apparently hulking ruffians, sauntered about among the 
throng that filled the dancing-room to su£Rx:ation. They 
wore blue blouses, and loosely knotted red handkerchief 
round their necks. Their trousers were of the ample, baggy 
kind, tight at the ankles, so beloved of the Paris rough, and 
their heads were covered with the peak cap affected also by 
the Paris loafer. The mouth of each was hidden by a heavy 
moustache, and each face had the appearance of being drink- 
sodden and cruel. As they were strangers, the company 
showed no inclination to fraternise with them, for the 
denizens of that reeking region were suspicious of strangers, 
for they all of them had good cause, more or less, to be 
afraid almost of their own shadows. The strangers, however, 
did not seem to concern themselves about that. They 
haunted the dram-counter, where body and soul destroying 
poisons were sold under the name of liqueurs. Presently one 
of them began to make advances to a raddled cacaneuie 
who had been howling out a ribald song. She was young 
in years but old in vice, and at one time she might have 
been considered passably good-looking. The stranger and she 


seemed to get on well together. He treated her to the poison 
called liqueur, and she was gratified. The stranger's com- 
panion apparently had sunk into a drunken and besotted 
sleep. He was seated on a form, his back against a wall, 
his chin fallen on his breast, his arms folded. His face was 
almost entirely hidden by the peak of his cap. 

It was nearing midnight. The so-called ball was in full 
swing. The half-drunken men and women roared and 
reeled, yelled and kicked, swung and bobbed, backed and 
advanced, seizing each other now and again, and whirling 
round and round in a wild, mad, demoniacal frenzy. 
Presently the stranger and the woman, who had been haunting 
the bar for at least an hour, went out into the starless night, 
and after the mephitic atmosphere of the dancing-saloon, the 
outer air was pure and invigorating. At that moment the 
drunken sleeper — stranger number two — who had occupied 
the form reeled out after his companion and the woman, 
who led the way to a hovel that stood in a ^ garden plot.' 
The window of this hovel was screened by a woollen curtain 
that had not been drawn quite close, and it showed that a 
light burned in the room. The stranger rapped on the 
door in a peculiar way. It evidently conveyed a meaning 
and a signal. In a few moments the door opened to the 
limits of a chain, and in the aperture the gross and greasy 
face of a fat woman appeared. She demanded to know who 
the intruder was and what he wanted. He said he was 
the doctor's assistant, and had been sent by the doctor, who 
couldn't come, as he had to go to another man who had 
been knifed by a comrade during a quarrel. One or two 
other questions were asked by the woman and answered 
satis&ctorily. At last she drew the chain, and swung the 
door open for the ^ doctor's assistant ' to enter. He did so, 
but stood for a moment or two on the threshold. A miser- 
able tallow candle stuck in a bottle that stood on the floor of 
the passage was the only light. The * doctor's assistant' by 
a clumsy step knocked the bottle over, and the place was 
plunged in darkness. The man swore at his clumsiness, so 
did the woman, and at that instant a second man slipped in, 


silent as a shadow, and crouched behind the door, which the 
doctor closed and protected by putting the chain on. Then, 
led by the woman, he entered a room that was illuminated 
by a candle on a table. 

It was a low-ceilinged room, the ceiling as black as coal. 
The walls were almost entirely destitute of plaster, and the 
bare bricks showed between, dripping and slimy. The black, 
greasy boards of the floor were destitute of carpet, and the 
whole furniture of the place would not have fetched five francs 
at an auction sale. At one side was a bare hearthstone, on 
which glowed a pan of coals, and a mangy cat warmed itself 
on the hearth. 

These were mere details, however, which did not interest 
the doctor's assistant, who glanced at a bed in a corner. It 
was a dirty, reeking couch, with inconceivably filthy rags 
about it. Everything in the place was filthy, sickening. 
The atmosphere was mephitic, but it was typical of all the 
dens in that awful region of human leeches and ghouls. On 
the bed lay a fierce, repulsive-looking man, whose head 
was bound up with blood-stained rags. His whole appear- 
ance was ghastly ; but he was of herculean build, and looked 
a determined rufiian to whom nothing would be sacred. 
With the suspicion of a hunted creature, he half started up, 
and in a thick, raspy, raucous voice demanded to know who the 
stranger was, and what in the name of the fiend he wanted. 

The woman answered : 

^ Old Crazion couldn't come to dress your head to-night. 
He is with a pal who's been slit up in a row, so he's sent 
this chap instead.' 

* Are you a rattlebones r ' (slang for doctor) asked the 
sick man savagely, and still looking suspicious. 


* Who the blistering brimstone are you, then ? ' 

* Vandeleur, the detective.' 

The sick man uttered a yell of mortal terror, for the 
name of Vandeleur, the famous French detective, was known 
in every slum in Paris ; while all the human vermin of the 
gutters lived in dread of Vandeleur, who seemed to be 


ubiquitous, to possess nine lives, and to be capable of assum- 
ing such disguise that his most intimate friend could never 
have recognised him. 

Simultaneous with the cry of the ruffian, his hand dived 
beneath the bedclothes and seized a revolver, but before he 
could use it Vandeleur had thrown himself on him, and the 
fat woman, who attempted to seize Vandeleur, suddenly 
found herself pinned by powerful arms. They were the 
arms of Vandeleur's companion, who was Vincent Trill, and 
as if they had been conjured by magic the house was filled 
and surrounded by policemen with drawn swords. Trill, 
who had slipped in and crouched behind the door when 
Vandeleur had kicked over the candle, gave them admission. 
The sick man on the bed was Pepe Hillo, and he had been 
betrayed into the hands of his enemies by the raddled 
cacaneusey who had fallen into the trap so cleverly laid for 
her by Vandeleur ; for she, never suspecting who he was, but 
believing him when he said he was a pal, and had important 
news to give Pepe if he could find him, had given Pepe away. 

Notwithstanding the strong force of the law's repre- 
sentatives, Pepe Hillo was not conveyed from that awfiil 
Alsatia without a struggle, for the news ran like wildfire, 
and a rescue was attempted. But the armed and disciplined 
band prevailed over the mob, and the ruffian was lodged at 
last in the Mazas Prison. In due course he was brought to 
trial, and link by link a chain of evidence was forged around 
him. That he committed the crime there was no room for 
doubt, and his injuries were received by a fell when descend- 
ing by means of the pipe. That fall was due probably to the 
dagger, which he had stuck in his waistband, catching in one 
of the joints of the pipe. That dagger was fatal to him, 
since it betrayed him into the hands of the law, and he was 
condemned to death. A few weeks later his brutal life 
came to an end by the guillotine. 

The motive that led Pepe Hillo to assassinate Mr. 
Hipshaw is a story in itself, and must be told as a sequel. 
It is one of those strange romances of real life that give us 
pause, and set us wondering many things. 





Nearly every murder is the result of a motive on the part 
of the murderer. The motive may spring into existence 
suddenly, born of a passing impulse ; it may be the common 
and vulgar one of an ignorant and debased mind, arising from 
covetous greed ; or the murderer, in order to save his own 
worthless life, takes the life of another. On the other hand, 
motive may be of long and deliberate growth, the result of 
real or fancied wrong ; it then takes the form of revenge- 
one of the strongest of human passions. In countries where 
laws are lax, as in some of the States of America, murder is 
more frequently than not the outcome of revenge for injury 
suffered. This may be termed a rough and ready means of 
justice, though in many cases the punishment is out of all 
proportion to the offence. It is a form of brutality, and 
brutality is almost invariably associated with an ignorant 
mind incapable of reasoning. The man who would commit 
murder from motives of revenge would flog his horse to 
death because the animal had offended him. It is very rarely, 
indeed, that a clever and intellectual man is brutal. In all 
ages and in all conditions revenge has been a very fruitful 
source of crime. In less civilised times than those we now 
live in, very little provocation was needed for one man to 
kill another man. In those days life was held cheaply and 
was taken readily. Death was the only form of punish- 
ment which the wild justice of revenge recognised. Con- 


stituted law has placed a much higher value on human life, 
and redress for wrong must be sought for in a court of law. 
The complainant may not always succeed in getting the 
redress, but he has to rest satisfied with what the law awards 
him. In rare instances the wronged one will make a law 
unto himself and slay his wronger. But no matter how 
grievously he has been offended, though he has been ruined 
in body and purse, though his home has been destroyed, and 
his wife and daughter betrayed, if he kills his wronger he 
commits murder in the first degree. Civilisation recognises 
nothing, absolutely nothing, that can justify murder. 

When Vincent Trill began to inquire into the Hipshaw 
case, he looked about, as he always did, for a motive for 
the crime, because it is an axiom among those whose 
business it is to bring crime home to the perpetrator, that if 
you discover the motive you may be able to spot the crimi- 
nal. The finding of the blade of the broken dagger on 
which the name of Pepe Hillo was scratched afforded a clue 
to the hand that had struck the fatal blow. And when it 
was remembered that ^Pepe Hillo' was the name of a 
notorious individual against whom the police had a black 
record, the clue was materially strengthened, although it did 
not suggest a motive. Pepe Hillo was classed amongst the 
lawless wretches — male and female — who, taking their lives 
and liberties in their hands, choose to eke out their miserable 
existence by plundering. To such people, of course, life 
has no sacredness. If one of these pariahs had found his own 
life in peril he would not have hesitated to have sacrificed 
the life of the highest personage in the land, if by so doing 
he could save himself. With such a wretch self-preservation 
is the very highest law of nature. This is ever the case 
where true courage, chivalry, and ennobling qualities are 

When the first hurried examination of Hipshaw's cham- 
bers took place as soon as the murder became known, it was 
made clear that the assassin had not been actuated by a de- 
sire to rob. Had it been otherwise there was a sum of 
money lying ready to his hand which he could easily have 


appropriated and carried off without encumbering himself or 
impeding his flight. It seemed^ therefore, as if the crime 
was a political one. Some hot-headed fool, perhaps, had 
conceived an impression that the world would be better if 
Hipshaw were removed from it, although, politically speaking, 
the Hon. Peter Hipshaw was an utterly irresponsible being 
— ?L mere attache to the Embassy, who could no more have 
influenced the Government of the country in which he had 
taken up his residence than he could have flown. The 
finding of the blade of the dagger in the stable yard threw a 
totally different light on the matter, and yet it was hard to 
understand how it came about that if Pepe Hillo was 
responsible for the crime he had not thought it worth while 
to carry off a single louis. Apart from the money and other 
portable valuables, all the jewellery and trinkets and a 
massive gold chain and valuable gold chronometer watch 
were left behind. As a matter of feet, he might have filled 
his trousers pockets alone with between two and three 
hundred pounds' worth of things. However, it was not the 
business of the police to think out a motive for the crime 
first, and arrest afterwards. A strangely fortuitous circum- 
stance had placed a clue in their hands, and they would have 
been fools not to have used it because they could not define 
a motive for the commission of the crime. Their business 
was to seek for Pepe Hillo, and having found Pepe Hillo it 
would remain for the law to prove him guilty or a victim of 
someone's blunder. If he were proved guilty the motive 
for the deed would no doubt be forthcoming. 

Pepe Hillo's record and antecedents pointed pretty 
accurately to where he was likely to be found. He was 
known to be a ruffian and to consort with ruffians, and 
Montmartre was the very hotbed of Paris ruffianism. Even 
though a ^ wanted ' man had his den somewhere else, it was 
ten to one but what some trace of him could be got in 
Montmartre, and it was there that Vandeleur, a distin- 
guished member of the Paris Secret Service, determined to 
seek for him. Trill obtained permission of the Commissary 
of Police to accompany his colleague, and the two, with the 


cleverness of true artists, so altered their outward appearance 
that even the born ruffian would have failed to penetrate the 
disguise. But apart from this disguise they were both 
enabled to assume the manner, the slouch, the shrug, the 
slang, and general style of a * Montmartre rat,' so that they 
felt themselves safe. To provide for contingencies every 
possible precaution was taken, and it was arranged that a 
number of well-armed, plain clothes police should be within 
beck and call. The programme thus mapped out, Vandeleur 
and Trill set forth on their dangerous mission. It was 
arranged that Trill was to act the part of the watcher, ready 
for any emergency, while Vandeleur was to seek for traces 
of Pepe Hillo. Fortune favoured Vandeleur by throwing 
the female singer in his way. Into her ear he poured 
such a plausible story that he disarmed her suspicion, if she 
had any, and succeeded in inducing her to betray the 

* suspect ' into his hands. The story he told was that he 
had just tramped from Marseilles, having been released from 
a term of imprisonment there ; that during his imprison- 
ment he made the acquaintance of another convict, con- 
demned for life, who gave him a most important message 
to deliver to Pepe Hillo. The woman on her part stated 
that Pepe Hillo had recently been injured seriously, and was 
lying attended by a quack doctor, who * practised * in 
Montmartre. These little details were of the greatest 
service to Vandeleur, and in addition he learnt that if he 
wanted admission into Pepe Hillo*s house he must rap on 
the door in a peculiar way, as a signal that a friend and not 
a foe sought entrance. 

The murder of Mr. Hipshaw had been the talk of Paris 
for several dzysy and the papers made rare capital out of it. 
The * Drame de la Rue Monceau,' it was called : and the 

* Drame de la Rue Monceau ' was for the time on every- 
one's tongue. Then it was swept out of memory by some 
other event, but revived with increased interest when it 
was announced that Pepe Hillo had been arrested and 
charged with the assassination of the Hon. Peter Hipshaw, 
of her Britannic Majesty's diplomatic service. For many 


weeks it was thought that Pepe Hillo would cheat the 
law of its due, if he were guilty, for he hovered between life 
and death in the prison infirmary, owing to his injuries. 
But, thanks to the skill and science of the doctors, he was 
patched up, and having already gone through the pre- 
liminary stages of inquiry ana examination peculiar to 
French criminal procedure, he was placed upon his trial, 
and a mass of circumstantial evidence was brought to bear 
against him. Montmartre had subscribed a hancbome purse 
to pay for the defence of the prisoner, and two of the ablest 
counsel in Paris were charged with his defence. When 
they found that it was hopeless in face of the evidence to 
aim at an acquittal on the grounds of innocence, they 
adopted other tactics, and asked for acquittal, or mitigation 
of punishment, on the plea of ^ the dastardly conduct of the 
deceased gentleman,' and gradually the following remark- 
able iacts were made public on the prisoner's behalf : 

It appeared that the Hon. Peter Hipshaw had always 
taken a great interest in the criminal laws of all civilised 
countries, no less than in criminals themselves ; and he had 
written a book in which he advocated lenient sentences, 
urging that in his opinion severity of punishment did not 
deter, but only brutalised. He was also very strongly 
opposed to capital punishment. 

This book attracted some interest, but carried no weight. 
Its arguments were considered fallacious, its theories the 
veriest assumption, and without the slightest practical value. 
On these grounds it was generally condemned. It brought 
its author, however, into contact with the lower orders, not 
only of Paris, but of many other large cities, and he was 
known to interest himself very largely in men and women 
who had already suffered imprisonment, and in the criminal 
classes generally. During one of his journeys round the 
world he obtained the special permission of the Government 
to visit the French penal setdement of New Caledonia. 
Such fame as his book had given him had reached that 
place, and he found himself very popular, and an object of 
great interest to the criminals. 


Among the convicts there who had b6en transported for 
life was a well-educated fellow named Briant. By profession 
this man was a lawyer, and had at one time enjoyed a very 
large practice entirely amongst the criminal classes in Paris. 
He was known as the ^ Criminal Lawyer/ and it was said 
that he knew the secrets of all the most notorious ruffians of 
France. Being an exceedingly extravagant and fast living 
man he got into monetary difficulties, and in order to 
extricate himself he, in conjunction with another black sheep, 
of the legal profession, committed a most ingenious and 
extensive forgery of bonds. The forgery was discovered. 
He was arrested, tried, and condemned to transportation for 
life to New Caledonia. 

This man, knowing that he had no hope of ever getting 
his sentence reduced, told Hipshaw that he had a wife and 
daughter in Paris. His daughter he described as a very 
beautiful girl, and declared that he was madly, passion- 
ately devoted to her. Of his wife he spoke very lightly, 
as he believed her to be a woman of indiffisrent character,, 
although she was the daughter of a highly respectable 
tradesman in Lyons, who had been driven into the bank- 
ruptcy court by fraudulent transactions on the part of his 
partner, but, unable to bear the disgrace, he had committed 

Briant charged Hipshaw with a commission. Before 
his condemnation he had invested a sum of money in the 
girl's name. She was then only ten years of age, but was 
now within a month or two of being twenty-one. She was 
not aware of the investment, which originally was three 
thousand pounds, but added interest had largely increased its 
value. Hipshaw was asked to seek out the girl, take her 
from her mother, if she was still with her mother, and place 
her in such a position as would enable her to draw hei 
money, and watch over her as a guardian. 

Hipshaw readily undertook to carry out to the letter 
the wishes of the convict, who seemed much relieved and 
was profuse in his thanks. He stated that the one dream of 
his broken life was that his daughter should not suffer on his 



accounty and that her career should be bright and happy, 
and free from evil. 

When Hipshaw returned to Paris he lost no time in 
commencing the duty he had taken upon himself. At first 
his efforts to discover Lucie Briant were not successful, and 
he enlisted the services of a private inquiry firm. Through 
this agency, and after a search of some months, he learnt 
that Mrs. Briant and her daughter were living in the Mont- 
martre quarter under the protection of Pepe Hillo. It 
turned out that at one time the fellow had been a client of 
Briant's. He was then a young, dashing, handsome fellow, 
and having met Mrs. Briant she fell in love with him, and 
he secretly became her lover. It was through his connection 
with her that he half killed the woman who was then his 
companion. She guessed he was paying his attentions to 
another, and by way of revenge threatened to betray him to 
the police for a robbery he had been concerned in, but so 
fiir had managed to avoid suspicion in connection with it. 
This threat exasperated him to such an extent — for he was 
^idmitted to be a dangerously impulsive and passionate man 
— that he nearly beat her to death. And though she re- 
covered, the injuries she had received about the head 
rendered her a hopeless lunatic, and she had to be confined 
in an asylum. 

Hillo was tried, convicted, and sentenced to ten years* 
hard labour. During the time that he was serving his 
sentence Briant himself fell into disgrace and was duly sent 
to New Caledonia. When Pepe Hillo had served his time 
he returned to Paris and sought out Mrs. Briant. Her 
infatuation for the fellow was revived on their meeting again, 
and the result was she consented to accept his protection 
and took her daughter with her. 

The wretched woman had acquired a passion for drink, 
but there was every reason to believe that she had jealously 
guarded the girl, and had taken every care of her. When 
Hipshaw first came in contact with these people Lucie was 
nearly twenty-two, and was a strikingly good-looking girl. 
She had a superb figure, and an abundance of rich, dark- 


brown hair. Her mother in her youth had been a hand- 
some woman ; and her father was a fine man, so that the 
girl inherited her good looks from both parents. It was 
hardly to be expected, having regard to the atmosphere in 
which she lived, that the girl would be altogether untainted. 
She looked up to Pepe Hillo as her father, and he professed to 
adore her. There is no doubt he had conceived a very 
strong afiection for her, and in his own rough, coarse way 
he looked after her, and shielded her as far as he could from 
the dangers which he, of all men, knew so well beset her 

Hipshaw told Pepe Hillo of his visit to New Caledonia 
and the duty he had undertaken on behalf of the girl's father. 
The defence laid stress upon what they termed an indisputable 
fact, that Pepe Hillo placed the fullest confidence in Hipshaw, 
whom he knew through his book, and he expressed a strong 
desire that the girl should be placed in a better sphere and 
away from the influence of her mother, who had become a 
victim to the morphia habit and absinthe. He told Hipshaw 
that he loved the girl as much as if she was his own child, 
and any man who did her a wrong would have to answer 
to him with his life. Necessarily HiUo thought it was a grand 
chance for the girl's fixture to be watched over by the 
Englishman, the Hon. Peter Hipshaw, who was in the 
service of the Government of the country, and he bound 
himself by oath never to interfere with Lucie, nor to darken 
her path, so long as all went well. But he added emphati- 
cally that if the girl was wronged he would feel it his duty 
to avenge her wrongs. 

These points were made a great feature of Pepe Hillo's 
defence, and it was hoped they would tell with the judge 
and jury. Possibly they would had the victim of Pepe 
Hillo's fury been anyone else but the Hon. Peter Hipshaw. 

Resuming the thread of the narrative. At first Lucie 
Briant displayed no readiness to quit her mother and the 
freedom she enjoyed to pass under the restraint which would 
necessarily be imposed upon her by a higher social sphere. 
And another point much dwelt upon was that Hipshaw at 



this time did not make known, either to the girl herself, to 
her mother, or to Hillo, that she was entitled to money. 
But notwithstanding that omission, he succeeded after a 
little time in overcoming such scruples and objections as 
Lucie interposed, and she consented to act under his advice 
and be guided by him. 

Up to this point Mrs. Briant had been kept in ignorance 
of what was taking place. Indeed, it was not often that she 
had such lucid intervals as enabled her to intelligently grasp 
a subject ; but when the final stage in the negotiations was 
reached Hipshaw deemed it prudent, no less than his duty, 
to acquaint the unhappy woman with the facts. As soon as 
she heard them she flew into a fiery fury of passion, and 
vowed that her consent should never be given to the girl 
going away. And she accused Hipshaw of wanting to take 
her for his own base purposes. However, she was soon 
pacified by Hillo and a dose of morphia, and in a short time 
the subject seemed to pass entirely from her memory, which 
had been shattered by her habits. 

There was every reason to believe that at this time 
Peter Hipshaw*s intentions were perfectly straightforward 
and honourable, and that he seriously desired to improve the 
girl's moral tone and raise her in the social scale. With a 
view to entirely severing all her former connections he 
removed her straight away to England, and placed her 
under the care of a lady who kept a small boarding-school 
near Epsom. Lucie remained there for about nine months. 
She abruptly left, and to Hipshaw's astonishment turned up 
in Paris again. She complained that she could not endure 
the lady nor the discipline of the school, and so had run 
away. It appeared that the lady who conducted this estab- 
lishment was one of those over-zealous, though no doubt 
good-intentioned, people who believe that they have a 
special mandate from heaven to be for ever and ever pointing 
out to their fellow beings the wickedness of the world in 
general and of their fellow beings in particular. In short, the 
lady represented a very objectionable English type, who not 
only seek to stamp their impress on everyone they come in. 


contact with, but who believe that anyone of foreign birth 
must necessarily be profoundly wicked. Such people un- 
fortunately have not only brought discredit upon their 
country, but have done innnitely more harm than good. It 
may readily be understood that the lady in question and 
Lucie Briant were not likely to get on well together. The 
wonder was that the girl endured the position so long, 
for it must have been intolerable. When she told Hipshaw 
all she had suffered, she referred to the schoolmistress in terms 
very far from flattering, and vowed and declared that she 
would die rather than go back again. However, her 
guardian had no intention of sending her back. He saw 
he had made a mistake, and regretted it. He had tried 
to amalgamate oil and water, and had &iled. 

In one respect, at least, Lucie's stay in England had 
done her no harm. Her removal from the squalid region 
of Montmartre to the purer air and better surroundings 
of Epsom had developed her into a remarkably handsome 
young woman 5 but she had also developed a strong spirit 
of self-assertiveness, self-assurance, and independence. She 
complained that she had been * stewed up ' long enough, and 
was now going to enjoy herself. There was reason to 
believe that up to this period Hipshaw had not made it 
known to her that she was the possessor of money, but he 
now intended to do so. Her manners, however, caused him 
to change his mind, and it is reasonable and fair to him to 
suppose that he deemed it entirely in her interest to tem- 
porarily conceal the information. In order that she might 
be free to a large extent, he took apartments for her in a 
quiet but highly respectable part of Paris, and he surrounded 
her with such things as seemed to gratify her tastes. It was 
natural that he should deem it imprudent to leave her much 
alone, consequently he passed a good deal of his spare time 
with her. She had developed a taste for music. He was 
very fond of both music and singing, so they sang and 
played together, and of course the inevitable result fol- 
lowed. A lively, pretty, and passionate girl and a young 
and susceptible man could not constantly be in each 


other's society without falling under the spell of each other's 
influence. It was proved in evidence out of the mouth 
of the girl herself that at this time Hipshaw ofiered to 
secretly marry, send her somewhere to be well educated, 
and after that openly acknowledge her as his wife. To this, 
however, she objected, on the plea that she did not intend 
to bind herself, but as she loved him she was willing to be a 
wife to him in everything but name. As she was stubborn 
in her refusal to marry, and he was bewitched by her 
charms, they entered into the arrangement she herself 
suggested ; but before doing so he told her that she was 
the owner of a considerable sum of money, and he re- 
quested her to determine what was to be done. 

At first the news turned her head a bit. She insisted 
on the money being paid to her immediately, and would 
take no denial, and when she got it she seemed bent on 
making it fly as soon as possible, for she gave orders 
right and left for clothes and all sorts of things. In this 
way several thousand francs went, until Hipshaw's better 
counsels prevailed, and she consented to be guided by him. 

There was nothing whatever in the strange story as 
It was unrolled in the court of justice to prove that 
Hipshaw misappropriated one single sou of the girl's 
money, though the defence did more than insinuate that 
he had done so, and a knowledge of that fact was one 
of the impelling influences that led to his death. 

The subsequent incidents of the thrilling little drama are 
pitiable. For a time the ill-assorted couple appeared to be 
happy enough. He was entrusted with the money, and he 
distributed it over several investments, not one of which, 
unfortunately, turned out a success. When she learnt that 
the money was lost she became furious, and discord of a very 
serious kind occurred. The worst part of her nature now 
displayed itself, and in a moment of madness begotten of 
disappointment and temper she took herself off to Mont- 
martre, and made complaints to her mother and Pepe Hillo. 
But in a few days she had repented of her hastiness, and re- 
turned to Hipshaw humbly repentant. 


It was proved that there was another spell of domestic 
sunshine, and the pair went away to a secluded and com- 
paratively unknown little seaside place in Brittany. But 
the young lady soon tired of the seclusion. She yearned for 
the gaiety and stir of Paris, and Hipshaw returned to the 
capital with her. 

It now seemed that she underwent some sudden and 
extraordinary change of disposition. She declared that she 
had led the life of a nun long enough, and demanded that he 
should take her to theatres, concerts, balls, and other places 
of amusement. Obviously his social position and his conr 
nection with the Embassy rendered it very undesirable that 
he should appear in public with her. He suggested that 
she should go and live in England, and he promised to visit 
her frequently. But she flatly and stubbornly refused to do 
anything of the kind. After this, there was a brief, very 
brief, spell of peace, and then the storm was renewed. 

She complained that Hipshaw neglected her, that he was 
ashamed of her ; and prompted, as there was every reason to 
believe, by her mother or Hillo, or both, she demanded that 
Hipshaw should marry her at once, at the Embassy at first, 
and subsequently at the Madeleine. She further demanded 
ten thousand francs for her trousseau. It is needless to say 
that he gave her clearly to understand her demands would 
not and could not be complied with. This threw her once 
more into a fury of passion, and off she went to Montmartrc 
again. In the course of a day or two Hipshaw was visited 
by Pepe Hillo. So much was unmistakably made clear, but 
what took place at that interview was never known. Hillo 
admitted that he had seen Hipshaw, but he declined to say 
anything further. 

The day following Pepe Hillo's visit, Lucie returned 
to her apartments, and instantly sent an urgent and appeal- 
ing message to Hipshaw, imploring him to go and see her, 
as she was heartbroken. Of course he went, and a 
temporary lull ensued, but it was only of short duration. 
Testimony was forthcoming that the ill-starred pair had a 
furious quarrel, and that Lucie, in what seemed to be an 


outburst of frenzy, seized a poker, and ran amok amongst 
the furniture and ornaments, smashing everything that came 
in her way. He succeeded at last in disarming her, when 
she fell into a fit of violent hysterics, and he sent for a 
doctor with whom he was acquainted. 

Hipshaw must have realised now to the full all the 
bitterness of the situation in which he had placed himself ; 
and as he saw that he must either dissever himself from 
Lucie or quit Paris for ever, practically a ruined man, he 
decided on desperate measures. With the assistance of his 
medical friend, he made arrangements to have Lucie re- 
moved to and confined in a private asylum. He hoped 
that a little discipline and mild restraint would have a 
beneficial effect, and that in a short time she would yield 
to his wishes and go and live in England or elsewhere. 
Her removal was accomplished without any difficulty or 
resistance on her part. She was r^Uy very ill, and conse- 
quently subdued. Hipshaw accompanied her, and she was 
given to understand that they were going to a quiet 
country place for rest and change. She was too prostrated 
to concern herself about anything, and as he was with her 
she was contented, for after all, so &r as such a wayward 
and wilful nature as hers would permit of love, she loved 

The place where they went to was a hamlet not &r 
from Rouen, where there was a private asylum kept by a 
Doctor Pierre. As soon as Hipshaw had seen her com- 
fortably installed in this establishment, he slipped away and 
went off to England, hoping that for a time at least he had 
freed himself from his bite noir. He little dreamed, 
however, how fatal was the step he had taken. 

All the innate ferocity of Pepe Hillo's nature had been 
aroused by what he considered was the ill-treatment to which 
Lucie Briant had been subjected. In common with his 
class he did not reason things out, and having conceived him- 
self to be wronged, or that somebody in whom he was in- 
terested had been wronged, the very first idea that occurred 
to him was that he must wreak vengeance. He had by 


this time become greatly incensed against Hipshaw^ mainly, 
( perhaps, because he believed he had squandered or misappro- 

priated her money, and Pepe himself wanted to handle 
some of that money ; therefore baulked greed bulked 
largely as a factor in his sum total of imaginary wrongs. 
Within a few days of Hipshaw's departure from Paris 
Hillo learnt that he had gone, and that Lucie had gone, 
and the apartments had been given up. That information 
made Pepe Hillo mad, and he watched and waited as a 
hunter waits for his prey. By some means or other which 
were never disclosed he ascertained the exact day when 
Hipshaw was to return to Paris, and by equally mysterious 
means he introduced himself into his victim's chambers and 
lay concealed until the supreme moment came to strike the 
assassin's blow. 

Whether before the deed was done he attempted to 
argue with his victim or not is not known. He himself 
stated that he had demanded to know where Lucie had 
been taken to, and that Hipshaw drew a revolver from 
under his pillow and threatened to shoot him dead. That 
this statement was &lse was proved by the fact that no 
revolver was found in the house at all. It was also evident 
the assassin did not go with peaceful intent, otherwise why 
did he arm himself with a formidable dagger ? The fact 
was — there can be no doubt about it — the human brute 
was impelled by a wild, mad thirst for vengeance. He had 
lost Lucie and the small fortune which was hers. The 
disappointment maddened him beyond endurance ; he 
thirsted for blood, and gratified his tigerish tastes. Poor 
Hipshaw had sinned, no doubt ; but his punishment was 
out of all proportion to his offence. A stern and terrible 
V Nemesis, however, overtook his slayer. The fact of Pepe 

Hillo committing the deed with a dagger on which his own 
name was scratched was only in keeping with the pro- 
verbial stupidity of criminals. Nevertheless, he might 
have escaped detection altogether had the wrathful Nemesis 
not pursued him. Before descending from the building by 
the pipe, he stuck the dagger in the belt he wore round 


his trousers. That act of carelessness cost him his life. 

The dagger caught in a loose joint in the pipe, broke short i^ 

offy and threw the assassin to the ground, whereby he was 

seriously injured. Money, legal skill, and eloquence alike 

were used to save him from the guillotine, but all to no 

purpose. His bad record and the rank and position of 

his victim were against him, and he was sent to the 


It was said that the violent death of her lover, Hipshaw, 
so afiected Lucie Briant, notwithstanding the way she had 
tieated him, that she really went mad, and had to be sent 
to one of the State Asylums for incurable imbeciles. 





These records, dealing as they do with actual facts, and 
with crimes, not virtues, must necessarily bring the worst 
side of human nature uppermost. But, unhappily, notwith- 
standing all that optimists urge, the worser side is the larger 
side, for he is a bold man indeed who denies that there is 
more sorrow and sin than laughter and goodness in the 
world. Human nature is so constituted that hatred — it is a 
strong term, but it covers many degrees — I say that hatred 
outweighs love. Whether we take humanity in the abstract 
or humanity in the concrete, we find that while affection binds 
us to a few, there is no such thing as universal brotherhood ; 
and as between individuals, so it is between parties, between 
communities, between nations — jealousy, greed, thwarted 
ambition, these are the passions that are responsible for all 
the misery in the world ; and the preachings of Christianity 
that have been poured into men's ears for eighteen hundred 
years have effected little or no change in the fundamental 
principles of our nature. One of the most powerful of 
French papers, in dealing quite recently with this very theme, 
said : 

^ The ideal which men pursue under evil inspiration is 
nothing less than the summing up of the passions and vices 
which have alwa3rs afHicted humanity. They are the same 
vices, the same passions, that burst forth at the door of the 
Pretorium when a meeting of the time cried, " Give us 
Barabbas ! " It is the same passion, the same vice, which 
bellowed in front of the Abbaye prison in September, 1792, 


and which also covered itself with the mantle of patriotism 
in order to demand and accomplish things for which it is 
impossible to find a name. It was the same vices that roused 
men to come in packs round the entrance of the revolu- 
tionary tribunal and surrounded the scaffolds of the Terror. 
Actuated by the same passions, they cried " Death to the 
aristocrats. To the guillotine the accomplices of Pitt and 
Coburg ! " And it was the same passions that led to the 
hideous scenes during the night of August 24, 1572, when 
to the sounds of the bells of Saint Germain T Auxerrois, men 
yelled, " Kill, kill," and the streets of Paris ran with blood.' 

These sentiments of destruction and hatred are of all 
time. They are as old as wickedness and brutality, as old as 
fuiaticism, as old as lust, as old as the primitive ferocity of 
the human animal. Give them fine names, deck them out 
with pretentious formulas, adorn them with historic and 
ethnographic theories, surround them with mystical flowers, 
they will yet remain what they are, what they have always 
been, and what they always will be. Singularly applicable 
indeed is this little pre&ce to the story I now have to tell ; 
and it may serve to put to silence those who so readily cry 
out that human nature is not as bad as it is depicted ; and 
that there is no romance in real life. 

William Westlake was a merchant prince of the good 
city of Bristol. He came into the world amidst poverty and 
gloom, for his &ther was a bricklayer, his mother a washer- 
woman, and they quarrelled like cat and dog. And yet 
the wretched woman bore her husband no fewer than 
fifteen children. Some died, some went wrong, and one at 
least was sent into penal servitude ; but William, who was 
the fourth born, seemed to diflfer entirely from the rest, and 
managed. Heaven knows how, to acquire some amount of 
education, and while he was still of tender years he was 
earning a few shillings a week in the capacity of errand boy 
to a corn chandler. By the time he was twenty he was an 
assistant in the corn chandler's shop ; before he was twenty- 
two he had married the corn chandler's only daughter, despite 
the violent opposition of all her relatives, the father excepted, 


who discerned the good qualities of the young man and 
believed he would make his child an excellent husband. 
Not so the rest of the family. They had views above their 
station in life. They liked to believe themselves * somebodies.' 
They occupied pews in a fashionable church. They dressed 
in ^shion, and figured in a good many of the city functions. 
Of course, they looked down on the assistant. They re- 
garded him as of much commoner mould than themselves. 
And his audacity in daring to make love to the daughter ot 
the house made them furious. However, he had the father 
on his side, and the father was a man who not only knew 
his own mind, but had a will, and exerted it. So his 
daughter and the assistant were married. Within that year 
the father died, but he left his business to his son-in-law, and 
the rest of his property he divided amongst his family. For 
two or three years Mr. Westlake and his young wife lived 
happily. She bore him a son and daughter. The daughter 
died ; the son lived. Her relatives seemed to have made up 
their minds not to reconcile themselves to her husband, and the 
bitterness was increased by his succeeding to the business. 
There is no doubt that from the time of the father's death 
steady efforts were made to poison the girl-wife*s mind 
against her husband. It was hideously wicked, but it was 
done, and by people who were church-going people, who 
gave liberally to the church, and who helped to send 
missionaries to the heathen abroad. But the Christian 
principles they professed were not strong enough to subdue 
the passions of jealousy, false pride, and greed which were 
within them, and burst out on the slightest provocation. 

Mrs, Westlake would seem to have been a poor, weak 
little woman, who, no doubt under the pernicious influence 
of her relatives, began to complain that her husband 
neglected her, and devoted all his time to his business. . If 
she wanted to go to a theatre she couldn't go because her 
husband was otherwise engaged. It was the same with 
everything else : her husband's close application to his 
business virtually made a prisoner of her, and as he was a 
man who did not care a pin for society, but preferred to 


spend every spare moment poring over books, her life was 
no doubt a dull one, for she had nothing in common with 
the man she had vowed to love, honour, and obey. She had 
no resource within herself. Her intellect was a common- 
place one, and incapable of grasping any of the problems of 

Of course the inevitable result of this sort of thing 
followed. The young wife, who had practically been shut 
off from her relatives, began to visit them more, to appear 
in those circles which they frequented ; and being young and 
by no means ill-favoured, she found plenty of young men 
ready to offer her protection and escort whenever she wished 
to go anywhere. Two or three years of this kind of life 
followed, during which the wife enjoyed herself according 
to her lights, and the husband toiled, and toiled, and toiled, 
ever expanding his business, ever increasing his wealth, for 
his one great ambition was to rear up a &mily. His son 
should go to a public school, thence to college. He should 
become a scholar and gentleman, and breed up a race of 
gentlemen who should have no cause to despise the founder 
of the family, although his own father had been a drunken 
bricklayer, and his mother a vulgar washerwoman. It was 
a dream that other men had dreamed, and in some cases 
their dreams had been realised. But it was not to be so in 
this instance. One day the Fates rang down the curtain 
on a striking domestic tableau : faithless wife, a darkened 
home, a broken-hearted husband, robbed not only of his wife 
but his son, upon whom he had set all his hopes, and through 
whom the family were to be placed on a pedestal of distinc- 

So much of this pitiable story was revealed to Vincent 
Trill when, some years later, he was called upon to 
exercise his faculties in a matter which will be dealt with in 
its proper place. 

For a brief period it would seem that Mr. Westlake 
abandoned himself to an almost maddening despair. Then 
his stern, inflexible nature asserted itself. He rose from the 
blow a changed man, soured, disappointed, faithless. He 


made no effort to discover his erring wife, nor the son upon 
whom he had set so many hopes. He applied himself with 
renewed energy to his business. His ambition now was, 
apparently, to become a merchant prince and pile up a 
fortune. By his fellow citizens he was regarded as an 
upright, just, and honourable man, whose word was his bond. 
He was a keen bargainer, but he was never known to wrong 
a man out of a farthing. So the years passed, and, yielding 
to pressure put upon him, he allowed himself to be 
nominated for municipal office, and ultimately he became 
mayor of the city ; and so ably did he fill the office, and with 
such credit to himself and the town, that he was unanimously 
elected for the position a second year, and might have served 
a third had he been inclined. But he insisted on retiring, 
and the citizens marked their appreciation of his services by 
presenting him with a full-length portrait of himself, an 
illuminated address, and a costly service of silver. This 
latter seemed almost like a mockery, for in his desolated 
home he kept little or no company, and lived in a plain and 
unostentatious style. But it is very possible that service of 
plate called into existence new desires, and might have 
been responsible for what followed. 

During his mayoralty he had devoted himself with so 
much energy to his duties that his health showed signs of 
breaking down, and he was medically advised to take a 
holiday. He was not a man who cared to play. Work to 
him was life, but now he was forced to recognise that the 
promptings of nature cannot be ignored, and as the heads 
of the various departments of his huge business, which had 
become a general one, were all able and trusted men, he 
determined to go to Italy. He had never been abroad. 
Indeed, he had scarcely ever indulged in a holiday before, 
but the reason he selected Italy was this. He did a large 
trade with Italy, and in consequence he had exerted himself 
to acquire a knowledge of the Italian language, which he 
wrote fairly well and spoke with tolerable fluency. It 
was, therefore, in the nature of things that he should select 
Italy for his first holiday. Moreover, he had long had a 


standing invitation to visit one of his customers at Milan, 
and so to Milan he went. 

He spent two months in Milan^ and while there a 
strange incident happened. He was sitting one night with 
some friends outside a cafi^ when a child — z flower-seller — 
came up and begged the gentlemen to buv some of her 
flowers. She had a sweet voice, and a wonderful face, but 
she was unwashed and in rags. Nevertheless, neither dirt 
nor rags could rob the voice of its melody and richness, nor 
detract from the exquisite beauty of the face ; while about 
a perfectly shaped head clustered a rich tangled mass of 
raven-black hair. She was not more than ten years of age, 
but bright, quick, and of singular intelligence. With 
tears streaming down her cheeks, she begged somebody to 
buy her flowers, as her mother lay a-dying from starvation. 

Mr. Westlake's friends tossed her a few coppers, and 
roughly bade her be off; but Westlake himself bade her 
stay, and questioned her in his keen way ; drew from her 
something of her story — her only brother serving in the 
army, her father dead, her mother dying from want and 
consumption, and between her and actual starvation only 
this poor black-eyed child and her little bunches of flowers. 
No relatives, at least none that the child knew of; at 
any rate none who would come forward to help. 

Such was the commonplace tale told to the Englishman 
outside a cafi on a glorious summer night by a ragged, 
uncared-for Italian child. Westlake learned her address, 
pressed a gold coin into her hand, and sent her off with 
bounding footsteps and a light heart. When some weeks 
later Mr. Westlake left Milan to return to his native city 
of Bristol, that Italian child — whose name was Bettina 
Ferrari — was his travelling companion. He had inquired 
into her story, found it true in every detail, and that the 
mother was even worse than had been represented ; indeed, 
she died a few dajrs later. An old and disreputable uncle 
turned up, and not only claimed the rags and rubbish that 
were in the poverty-stricken home, but wanted to carry off 
Bettina as welL Against this course, however, Mr. West- 


lake apposed a bold front, and proposed to the girl that 
she should accompany him to England, and become his 
adopted daughter. She jumped at the oiFer. She screamed 
with delight, and called down blessings from heaven on the 
head of the good signor. 

As the child was an orphan and under age Mr. Westlake, 
by the advice of his friends, applied to a Judge for legal 
permission to adopt the girl, and this permission being 
readily forthcoming, he took her under his control, and her 
vagabond life ended, while a new and happier life dawned 
upon her. On his arrival home Mr. Westlake lost no time 
in providing this Italian waif with teachers, and he lavished 
upon her all the affection and regard of a devoted father. 
Her beauty was the admiration of everyone, her splendid 
voice was cultivated by Italian tutors, and so apt a pupil 
was she in every way that ere many years had passed she 
had become a proficient scholar. 

It need hardly be said that this beautiful girl whom 
Mr. Westlake had rescued from the gutter entirely changed 
the current of his life. He still went on amassing wealth, 
but his home now was fiill of joyous associations, and plenty 
of use was found for the silver service which had been 
presented to him by the citizens of his native town. He 
had the most perfect faith in Bettina ; he denied her 
nothing ; the carriage in which she rode wasn't surpassed 
by any in Bristol. The clothes she wore were the finest 
money could purchase, and thanks to her art instincts and 
refined nature the mansion in which she and her adopted 
father lived was a house of rare treasures, paintings, 
sculpture, bronzes, bric-d-brac and articles de vertu of all 
kinds ; and the young, bright, beautiful girl was the soul 
and genius of it all. She had reached womanhood now, 
being twenty-one years of age, and her twenty-first birthday 
was marked by a brilliant function, which had seldom been 
surpassed, and rarely equalled by a private person, in the 
good town of Bristol. 

. As no secret was made of Mr. Westlakc's intention to 
leave all his wealth to his adopted daughter, many were the 



young men who tried to ingratiate themselves in her and 
his favour ; but Bettina had few or no secrets from her 
father, and while he gave her to understand that she was 
a perfectly free agent, he begged her to consult him in all 
matters affecting her future happiness, and she declared that 
her love and reverence for him were so great that his word 
and^wishes were to her as a sacred law. He had given her 
a bright and happy life, and she had revived once more his 
interest in the world and his fellow men. As they took 
their airing every day in their carriage, she with her superb 
beauty, her brilliant eyes, and wealth of luxuriant black 
hair, threw into striking contrast his somewhat bowed 
figure and his silver hair straggling in unkempt confusion 
about his fine face. Many were the envious glances 
directed to them, and many a hat was raised and bow made 
to the dark-eyed heiress of * Old Westlake.' Amongst the 
young men who had secured the privilege of visiting at her 
foster-father's house was one rather attractive fellow who 
bore the name of Cornelius Dale. He had been introduced 
by the son of one of Mr. Westlake's customers, and it was 
understood that he had been born and brought up in 
London, where his father was in practice as a lawyer ; and 
that he, Cornelius himself, had been studying law, but had 
no taste for it, and had come to Bristol to spend some time 
with an aunt. 

It soon became evident that this young fellow was 
trying his hardest to make himself agreeable to Bettina, 
and a certain careless Bohemianism about him, added to a 
most plausible manner and a cheery, bright disposition, 
won upon her. Mr. Westlake watched closely, but said 
nothing. He had unbounded faith in Bettina, and was 
sure she would do nothing rash. For himself he did not 
take kindly to young Dale, who struck him as being a 
shallow sort of man for whom work of any kind had no 
attraction. Moreover, he had received only a superficial 
education, which seemed rather a strange circumstance, 
having regard to his being the son of a lawyer. In short, 
Mr. Westlake formed a far from favourable opinion of 


young Dale, and yet he was determined to speak no word on 
the subject until Bettina spoke to him. He was perfectly 
convinced in his own mind that she would open her heart to 
him in good time, and as he was so proud of her, so devoted 
to her, and so sincerely desirous of making her life perfect 
as far as in him lay, he would think no thought or utter no 
word calculated to prejudice Dale unless he had full justifica- 
tion for it. 

One day, as her foster-father anticipated she would do, 
Bettina went to him and said : 

* Father, I have something I want to tell you.' The 
blushes on her beautiful face and her downcast eyes betrayed 
her thoughts, and Mr. Westlake had to urge her to proceed. 
* It*s about Mr. Dale, father.' 

* Yes, dear, and what of him ?' 

* He has told me that he loves me/ 

* Yes, yes, and what of yourself ? Do you love him ?* 

* I — I am not quite sure — but, but I think I do.' 

* Very well, my darling. If it should turn out that your 
happiness is bound up in that young man I shall not stand in 
your way, but I ask you to promise me solemnly to do 
nothing to encourage him until I have made due inquiries 
and learnt something more about him. Remember that at 
present we know very little.' 

Bettina threw her arms about her father's neck, and 
exclaimed with all the vehemence of her passionate nature : 

* Father, to you I owe everything, and the man does not 
live who could win me from you without your approval. I 
know how truly you desire my happiness, and I should be 
worse than mad to go against your wishes.' 

Mr. Westlake was much touched at this display of filial 
affection and obedience, and he assured her that she was free 
to marry whom she chose, if she wanted to marry, so long 
as the man of her choice was an honest man. 

Mr. Westlake lost no time in making the inquiries he 

promised. He did this through his own solicitor, and in dxit 

course he was furnished with a report which terribly shocked 

Mr. Westlake. It set forth that Dale's statement that he 



was the son of a solicitor and had been studying law was 
absolutely false. He had at one time been in a shipping 
office in London, but having been caught in the act of 
pilfering he was given in charge, and suffered three months* 
imprisonment. After that, it appeared, he had gone upon 
the stage, and having decided histrionic ability he gave 
promise of a distinguished career, but soon tired of his new 
vocation, and drifted into vagabondism again, eking out an 
existence by playing at amateur theatricals and reciting at 
private parties. Of the aunt with whom he had come to 
stay in Bristol very little was known, but it was unmistak- 
able that she was given to drink, and had occasional outbursts. 
Mr. Westlake conveyed this information to Bettina, who 
heard it with some concern, but entirely agreed with her 
father that Mr. Cornelius Dale should be told in the most 
peremptory manner that he must come to the house no more. 
Mr. Westlake took upon himself to convey the intimation 
to Dale, who heard it with every indication of extreme 
mortification, if not of horror, for it presented itself to him, 
no doubt, in the light of a prize which had suddenly been 
torn from his grasp as he was about to seize it. cut he 
went his way sullenly and broken, as it seemed, and Mr. 
Westlake breathed more freely when his unwelcome visitor 
had departed ; and he thanked God fervently that the beauti- 
ful girl on whom he had lavished all his love, and who was 
to him as the apple of his eye, had escaped the threatened 
danger. Had she been less intelligent, less intellectual, 
Cornelius Dale's fascination might have prevailed over her, 
and she would have &llen into the trap which he had so 
wickedly endeavoured to set for her. 

This unpleasant little incident left an unpleasant odour, so 
to speak, in the Westlake home for a short time, but father 
and daughter were both resolved that they would get rid ot 
it as soon as possible, and in the course of the ensuing fort- 
night they set off for the Continent and made a little tour 
through France and Italy, taking in Rome and Naples, 
lingering at the latter place for three weeks basking in the 
sunshine and enjoying the exquisite beauty of the environs. 


At length they returned home and things assumed their 
wonted placidity again, but Mr. Westlake resolved to 
exercise a little more care as to the visitors who would be 
privileged in future to enjoy the hospitality of his house. 
For the precious sake of the jewel of that house, the treasure 
of his heart, it was necessary to be more guarded. 

It was little more than a year after the Cornelius 
Dale incident that Mr. Westlake went up to London on 
important business. It had been a year of all but unalloyed 
happiness to him. Bettina's devotion to him had increased, if 
that were possible, and during the time she had shown not 
the slightest disposition to allow any one gentleman to pay 
her more attention than another. She declared to her father 
that all her love was his. She had none for anyone else. 
She was to have accompanied him to London, but it chanced 
that she had been suffering for a- few days with a slight sore 
throat, and it was deemed advisable not to run the risk of 
increasing it by a railway journey in such inclement weather 
as then prevailed, for it was the black and bitter month of 

Mr. Westlake had only been in the metropolis thiee days 
when he was summoned by telegraph to return home 
immediately, as something had occurred. He lost no time 
in obeying the summons, and had it not happened that a train 
was starting within an hour after he would have ordered a 
special. On reaching his home he learnt to his horror that 
Bettina had gone out the morning after he left and had not since 
returned. She had gone on foot, saying that she wanted a brisk 
walk. Inquiries had been made at such places as it was 
thought probable she might have called at, but no tidings 
could be got. Never before since she had been with him had 
she stayed away from her home, and he knew of no one 
whose hospitality she would be likely to accept for so long 
a time. 

As soon as he could he started off a little army of 
messengers to make inquiries in every likely place, and he 
himself drove in the carriage to various people, but no news 
was forthcoming. Then the police were communicated with, 



but after diligent search the result was the same. Hair 
distracted, Mr. Westlake, through advertisements in the 
papers, and by means of bills posted all over the town, offered 
a large reward for the recovery of his foster-daughter, but 
nothing came of it. Then he telegraphed to Vincent Trill, 
asking him to come to Bristol immediately, and as soon as 
ever the astute detective arrived he at once set to work to 
try and solve the problem. 

Mr. Westlake was broken-hearted. His white hair had 
become whiter, and his face had assumed a drawn and 
haggard appearance, clearly indicating how cruel was the 
anguish he was suffering from. 

Trill established the fact that Bettina had made no 
preparation for remaining away, for she had taken nothing 
with her, and had even left her watch and chain and some 
rings behind, but he elicited from a female servant that she, 
the servant, had been stopped in the street by a woman who 
asked her to deliver a note to Bettina, which the servant did, 
and received five shillings for her trouble. This servant had 
not volunteered the information for fear of punishment and 
dismissal, but Trill in his inquiries had wormed it out of her. 
No reliable description of the woman who had given the 
note and paid the five shillings was forthcoming, as it was 
dark at the time. But the circumstance was suspicious, 
and Trill was trying to turn it to account when all Bristol 
was shocked, and Mr. Westlake was stunned, by the report 
that the body of a young woman with her throat cut 
had been recovered from the Avon, and from the description 
there was little doubt that the body was that of Bettina 
Ferrari Westlake, as she was called. This proved too true. 
It was Bettina, and Bettina had been murdered, but there 
were indications that she had struggled desperately for her 
life. Her hands, arms, breast, and &ce were gashed, showing 
with what brutal ferocity she had been attacked. Her 
clothes were torn to shreds, and there was an awful wound 
on the left-hand side of her throat. It was the result of a 
stab, which had severed the jugular vein. 

It was unmistakable murder, murder most horrible. All 


murder is horrible, but the horror of this one was enhanced 
by the frightful brutality that had been displayed. Hex- 
pocket had been emptied, but a small jewelled locket con- 
taining a portrait of Mr. Westlake still hung on her bosom. 
In her left hand, which was clutched firmly in the agony of 
death, was a bunch of brown hair, which probably in her 
struggle for life she had torn from the head of her assailant. 
That bunch of hair was a clue which Trill knew how to 
turn to the best account, slender though it was. 

Eight days had passed from the time of the young lady 
leaving her home to the finding of her body in the Avon. 
The deduction was that she had been murdered on the very 
day she went out, therefore the murderer had got a good 
start. Mr. Westlake was prostrated, and the doctors doubted 
if he would ever speak again or be able to recognise anyone, 
therefore he could render no assistance in the inquiry. But 
Trill had learnt from him before the recovery of the girl's 
body the whole of the story as told in the first part of this 
record. It seemed — and perhaps it really was so — that 
Westlake had had some premonition of the tragedy that was 
to be revealed sooner or later, and had deemed it prudent to 
give all the details of the girl's history and of his and her 
connection, knowing, as he did know, that if aught evil had 
happened to her the shock would be too much for him, and 
he might suddenly go down into the grave. 

The body of Bettina had been taken out of the river at 
a place called Hanham Mills, about four miles above Bristol, 
and there was no doubt it had been carried there by the 
drift of the tide. The medical evidence established con- 
clusively that the poor girl was * murdered before being 
thrown into the water, and Trill turned his attention to 
discovering, if possible, the place of the murder. With 
extraordinary patience and minuteness the banks on both 
sides were thoroughly examined, until suspicious traces were 
observed at Clifton on the Bristol side. Further examination 
showed that in a wood close by a desperate life and death 
struggle had taken place. The ground was trampled into 
^i\rt^ twigs and branches were broken down, and leaver an^ 


grass were found which had been literally drenched in 
blood. The footsteps indicated two persons only. There 
plainly enough were the marks made by Bettina's boots, and 
the imprint of a man's feet. From the trampled mire Trill 
picked out four artificial teeth attached to a gold plate. 
They had never been in the mouth of the murdered girl, 
for her teeth were perfect. In the struggle, therefore, they 
had probably dropped from the mouth of the murderer, and 
Trill resolved that if he still lived those teeth and the bunch 
of hair taken from the dead girl's hand should bring her 
brutal destrover to the scafibld. 

Trill haa heard the story about the rejected lover, Cor- 
nelius Dale, and he set out to find him. He might be 
innocent, probably was, but it was as well to know some- 
thing about him. The element of chance in all detective 
work is a most potent fector. 

Dale had been introduced into the Westlake home by 
the son of one of Westlake's customers. But when ques- 
tioned this young fellow declared that he had only met Dale 
three or four times in a billiard saloon in the town much 
frequented by the young prigs who liked to play the swell, 
and that Dale had worried his life out to introduce him to 
Bettina. The * aunt,* who was known as Mrs. Hurst, was 
visited and questioned, but very little could be made of her. 
She was a pitiable wreck, intellectually and physically, by 
years and years of secret tippling. She declared that until 
her nephew had recently visited her, she had not seen him 
for years, and did not know where he was at that ihoment. 

Trill's next move was to visit all the leading dentists of 
the town and subniit the gold-cased teeth to their inspec- 
tion, but not one was able to identify them, and there was 
a consensus of opinion that they were London work. For 
a few days Trill was in London, and dentists were invited 
to call at Scotland Yard and examine the teeth. One day 
a man came, looked at them, and then declared they were 
his work. A little later reference to his business books 
jshowed that they had been made about four years before to 
the order and for the use of one Philip Keith, whose jaw 


had been greatly damaged by an accidental blow from a 
stick. Keith was an actor, and one morning during a re- 
hearsal two of the actors were practising a fencing bout with 
sticks. Keith was standing near, and accidentally he was 
struck. That was the story told as the dentist remembered 
it. Possibly it wasn't true, but the fact remained he had 
fitted the teeth in Keith's jaw, and Keith had dropped them 
while struggling with his poor victim in the Clifton wood — 
at least that was Trill's deduction. Otherwise, how did 
they get from Philip Keith's mouth to the wood at Clifton ? 
At the time the teeth were fitted Keith was playing an en- 
gagement at an East End theatre, and Trill had to determine 
whether or not Keith and Dale were one and the same 
person. Necessarily every inquiry was made at the theatre, 
though it was not stated that Keith was believed to be Dale, 
and that Dale was suspected of one of the most ferocious 
crimes of the century. These inquiries brought to light one 
little fact, which was interesting and of great use. The lady 
who filled the part of singing chambermaid at the theatre 
was a Miss Lucie Harcourt. She had been there for 
several years. To her Keith had made love, and for a time 
had been accepted as her lover. But they quarrelled, and 
in a fit of temper Keith threw up his engagement. For 
some time afterwards he continued to write to her j but she 
did not answer his letters, and had no idea what had become 
of him. 

Acting on this information Trill devised a little trap. It 
might fail in its object, but it was worth a trial, for the pro- 
verbial stupidity of criminals often enables them to be 
trapped with ease. The trap was this : with Miss Lucie 
Harcourt's connivance an advertisement was inserted in all 
the theatrical papers, as well as all the morning and evening 
journals. It was worded thus : * Will Philip Keith commu- 
nicate with Miss L. H., at the Theatre ? She desires 

very much to see him.' This advertisement continued to 
appear for about a fortnight, when one afternoon two police 
officers, armed with a warrant, arrested at a cheap lodging- 
house in Greenwich a young man who was known there a$ 


Frank Metford. He was charged with being concerned 
in the murder of a young lady at Clifton, near Bristol. 

The reason he was arrested was that he had written 
to Miss Lucie Harcourt in answer to the advertisement. 
He explained that owing to a stupid freak he got into 
trouble with his relatives, and had assumed the name of 
Frank Metford so that they might not discover him. But he 
begged and prayed of her for the old love's sake to lend him 
a few pounds, as he was ^ stony broke ' and wanted clothes, 
so that he might try and get an engagement. 

The night of the very day on which that fetal letter was 
written Vincent Trill sought for and obtained shelter in that 
Greenwich lodging-house, and satisfied himself that Frank 
Metford was the Cornelius Dale he was searching for. The 
bunch of hair taken from the murdered girl's hand had 
been torn from his head. The teeth found in the mud 
where the death struggle had taken place had feUen from 
his mouth. 

Pitilessly and sternly the Nemesis of just vengeance 
forged a damning chain of circumstantial evidence about him 
in which there wasn't a single weak link, and after a patient 
and sensational trial he was cast for death. And to add to 
the pitifulness of it all, the shameless woman in Bristol who 
was known as Mrs. Hurst and posed as the murderer's aunt 
was the feithless wife of Mr. Westlake, and the debased 
being who had so ferociously done Mr, Westlake's heiress 
to death, out of pure revenge, was the offspring of the ill- 
assorted match. Under the training of his wretched mother 
he had developed into an adventurer and had lived by his 
wits for y^ars. At last, probably owing to the promptings 
of his mother, he conceived the daring scheme of trying to 
marry the beautiful girl whom Mr. Westlake had taken into 
his house, and allowed to grow into his heart. Foiled in 
that, he brooded over his disappointment until only blood 
would satisfy him. He had been heard to declare that he 
hated his fether and would be revenged upon him. How he 
lured the beautiful girl to her doom was never known, for 
froui the dav of his condemnation to the fetal moment when 


the noose was round his neck he preserved a sullen and 
morose silence. He confessed nothing, he asked for nothing. 
He refused all religious consolation, and went to his doom 
with unfaltering step and a smile on his ghastly face. He 
was one of those human problems which have puzzle$i 
students in all ages. 

Mr. Westlake lingered for twelve months, but was a 
shattered wreck, though he recovered sufficiently to alter his 
will and leave his wealth to various public institutions ; and 
over the grave of the sweet girl who had made his later 
years so happy he placed one of the most beautiful monu- 
ments ever carved by the hand of man, on which was 
sculptured this touching and eloquent inscription : 

* To THE Memory of 
Bettina Ferrari Westlake. 

The world was darkened when she passed to where God's 
angels waited with open arms to receive her.' 



It was in the early stages of his public career that Vincent 
Trill was called upon to investigate the case which is here 
recorded. He refers to it as a remarkable one, and it serves 
well to illustrate the extremes of wickedness to which men 
will go in their eagerness to acquire wealth. 

It appears that soon after the suppression of the Indian 
Mutiny, a Major M^Niven, who had fought through the 
Mutiny, was retired on a pension, although he had not 
reached the limit of age when a man, however robust and 
capable he may be, is obliged to quit the service. But 
M^Niven had been so knocked about, and so severely 
injured, that he was no longer capable of bearing arms. 
Consequently a grateful country relegated him to the shelf 
and gave him a pension. M^Niven, who was a Scotchman, 
had put in his time in the service of the Hon. East India 
Company, having entered the service as a cadet. Almost 
synchronising with his retirement the news reached him 
that, owing to the death of his only sister, who had led a 
miserly life for many years, he became possessed of very 
extensive property, reputed to be worth from fifteen to 
twenty thousand pounds a year. The greater portion of 
this property was situated in England, but some of it was 
in Scotland, and the Major being a native of Edinburgh, he 
elected to take up his residence in that city, which he had 
not visited since his boyhood. 

Major M'Niven was said to be rather eccentric^ and 


the acquisition of wealth developed in him the worst side 
of his character. He conceived an idea that there was a 
conspiracy to deprive him of his property, and the conse- 
quence was, he isolated himself entirely from all his 
relatives, and lived a hermit sort of life in a small self- 
contained house near Queensferry. The only thing in 
which he seemed to take any interest was a patch of garden 
surrounding his dwelling ; but as he was unable owing to 
his injuries to do more than superintend, he employed a 
man named James Ferguson to do the work of the garden, 
while Ferguson's wife looked after the house, and their son, 
a strapping and remarkably intelligent youth of eighteen 
or thereabouts, acted as body-servant to the Major, who, 
owing to his injuries, was unable to dress or undress 

Thus for some years the Major jogged on, presumably 
enjoying himself in his own way, although he lived as a 
miser instead of a man of means. Then somewhat suddenly 
he died, and as he had not been medically attended an 
inquiry had to be made as to the cause of death, which 
was conclusively proved to be due to the rupture of a blood- 
vessel in the brain. He had been * out of sorts ' for a few 
days, but seemingly had attached no importance to his 
ailments ; and yet there was reason to suppose that he had 
some premonitions of his near end, inasmuch as he went to 
a solicitor named John Cowrie and gave him instructions to 
prepare a will. It was then disclosed that he had been 
married a great many years. He had married a lady born 
in India of white parents. He had had a son by her, but 
when the boy was in his tenth year she eloped with an 
Eurasian Civil Servant and took the boy with her. From 
that day the Major had never set eyes upon his wife and 
child. He had conceived a hatred for her that might have 
tempted him to take the law into his own hands had he 
met her. However, it was not to be, and he never heard 
tale nor tidings about her. There is no doubt, however, 
that he always had a hankering after his child, and the 
instructions he gave the solicitor were to the e£Fect that all 


his property, with the exception of a small annuity to his 
servants, was to go to his son, and no expense was to be 
spared to discover him. In the event of the son being 
dead, his money was to be distributed amongst certain 
charities which he named, and he distinctly said that his 
brother, some years his junior, was to have nothing, as he 
considered him a wastrel. Such were the instructions the 
solicitor received, but before the will could be finally drawn 
up and executed the Major died. The young brother 
referred to, of whom nobody knew anything, at once put 
in a claim as heir-at-law, and as all efforts to trace the son 
failed, Richard M^Niven, the brother, became possessed 
of the property. It was revealed that the family had been 
a very divided one. There had been dissensions, mostly 
about money, and estrangements which were never made 
up. There were two girls : one died young, the other, a 
very handsome young woman, married a Lancashire cotton 
spinner, who amassed great wealth. He had no children, 
and was killed suddenly by being thrown from a gig. He 
left all his wealth to his widow, and miserly instincts 
developed in her ; she lived a solitary life for years, and then 
left all she possessed to her brother the Major, as she bore 
great enmity against her youngest brother. Fate, however, 
gave him the property after all, and as he was differently 
constituted from the other members of the family, he 
resolved to enjoy himself, and with that view bought a 
very charming old-fashioned residence at Bowness, near 
Windermere, in the English lake country. He was 
married, and had two grown-up daughters. His wife had 
been a domestic servant, and as he had never been able to 
do any good for himself, they had lived in an impoverished 

Under their altered circumstances they began to pose 
^s well-bred people, and Mr. M^Niven aimed at leading the 
life of a country gentleman. His wife blossomed into a 
fashionably dressed lady, while their daughters raised their 
heads very high indeed in the air. They took to riding 
thoroughbreds ; a carriage was set up, with a coat of arms 


on its panels ; and a retinue of servants was employed to 
minister to their wants. In a small country place like 
Bowness the M*Nivens were regarded as great people, and 
as nothing was known of their antecedents it was supposed 
that, instead of being parvenues, they had been accustomed 
to wealth and good society all their lives. For two years 
nothing occurred to dim the sunshine of their prosperity. 
They had taken a town house in London so as to be in 
the metropolis during the London season, and it was 
currently reported that the youngest daughter had become 
engaged to a young gentleman who was heir to a baronetcy 
and ten thousand a year. But suddenly there was a bolt 
from the blue, in the shape of a lawyer's letter informing 
them that the late Major M*Niven's son was living, and 
would arrive in England in a few days to prosecute his 
claim to his father's estate. The writer added : * We have 
every reason to believe that the claimant will have no 
difficulty whatever in establishing his identity, and proof 
will be forthcoming at the proper time.* 

As may be imagined, this communication caused a 
tremendous shock in the M^Niven home, for it was pretty 
generally known that Major M^Niven had had a son ; and 
Mr. M*Niven was well aware that as there had been no 
absolute proof of the death of that son, but only circum- 
stantial proof, he held the property on sufferance, so to speak. 
Nevertheless he was not disposed to let go his hold without 
a struggle. Possession is nine points of the law, and he 
resolved not to be turned out easily, so he at once placed 
his ailairs in the hands of a well-known firm of London 
solicitors, and there must have been deep chuckling as the 
legal leeches saw the loom of huge bills of costs ; they knew 
that whoever lost they would be sure to win, for your 
lawyer docs nothing on speculation ; he will certainly 
have the oyster, although his client gets nothing but the 

The claimant, it may be mentioned, was a young man 
of about thirty. He had come direct from India, or rather 
from Cashmere, where, according to his own account, he had 


been living with his mother, who was then married to a 
Mr. MoUoy ; but she was too old and feeble — having been 
a confirmed invalid for a long time — to accompany him to 
England. He had only quite recently heard that he was 
entitled to property through his father's death, by having 
seen by the merest chance an advertisement in the * Times,* 
which was left with some other papers in a * Travellers* 
Rest ' that had been occupied by a small party of English 
gentlemen who were travelling through Cashmere. In 
support of his claim he was furnished with a certificate of 
his birth, with various letters written to him by his father 
years before, with a daguerrotype portrait of himself when he 
was about seven years of age, and with the sworn testimony 
of various people, including an Indian judge, several military 
officers, and officials in the Civil Service. Everything 
seemed so clear and straightforward, and, moreover, bore 
the test of superficial investigation so well, that it is an open 
secret Mr. M*Niven was advised to try and come to terms 
with the heir, with a view to getting an allowance from 
him. But M*Niven was not the man to part from his 
riches easily. The pleasure of being a monied man was so 
great that the prospects of reverting to poverty again ap- 
palled him, and, as he afterwards confessed, more in a fit of 
desperation than from any real hope of ultimate success, he 
decided to try and trace the career of his nephew from the 
time of his birth. To that end he secured the services of 
Vincent Trill, who was instructed to proceed to India 
secretly, and find out whether or not all that the claimant 
had stated was true. 

Trill started upon his mission armed with all the in- 
formation about the family that could be supplied to him. 
Previous to leaving he spent a few days in the neighbour- 
hood of the late Major M*Niven*s residence at Queensferry, 
and learnt a good deal of the habits of that somewhat 
eccentric gentleman. On his arrival in India he lost no 
time in proceeding to Cashmere, where the erring widow of 
the Major was then living. He found that to a large ex- 
tent she had adopted the habits and costume of the natives, 


and to his surprise she was in sound and robust health, 
although the claimant had represented her as being a con- 
firmed and enfeebled invalid. She further intended — so the 
current gossip ran — to go to England as soon as her son's 
claim to the property was confirmed. Trill was rather 
struck by this, and he wondered why she had not gone to 
England when her son went. That seemed to him a 
somewhat suspicious circumstance, and set him pondering. 
An ordinary mind would not probably have seen anything 
in it. Nor did Trill himself attach much, if any, im- 
portance to it. Nevertheless, it led him to resolve to 
interview the lady, not in his character of Vincent Trill, 
the investigator, but as a chance traveller who took some 
interest in the case. 

In a place like Cashmere, where English travellers are 
few and far between, there was nothing out of the way in 
one calling upon a fellow-countryman, even without an 
introduction. He found that she was still with the Eurasian 
with whom she had eloped, but he had degenerated into a 
&t, lazy, opium-smoking vagabond, whose only income, and 
that a small one, was derived from a rice plantation and a 
vineyard which he owned, although he did not give himself 
much concern about them, but preferred to smoke and 
gamble all day. 

Mrs. M^Niven, who was known as Mrs. MoUov, did 
not receive Trill — who represented himself as a gentleman 
travelling for his pleasure — very graciously, although she 
was not absolutely rude. But when he ventured to remark 
that he had heard that her son was in England prosecuting 
his claim to a large estate, she displayed great animation and 
interest, and cagerlv inquired if he knew anything of the 
case. Trill repliea that what he knew he had gathered 
from the papers, for owing to its somewhat romantic 
nature it had been eagerly seized upon by journalists as 
* good copy.' The lady now plied her visitor with questions 
with a view to eliciting his opinion as to her son's success 
and incidentally she made the following remark : ^ I wonder 
if there is any suspicion about his identity ! ' 



Trill records that from the moment he heard that 
remark he began to think there was something wrong, and 
that this woman, who had been represented as a helpless 
invalid, was playing a deep game* 

Why should she be anxious to know if the identity of 
the claimant was suspected if there was no reason for 
suspicion ? An honest person conscious of his rectitude 
does not pause to consider if he is suspected of dishonesty. 

' What leads you to suppose it possible there should be 
any suspicion ? ' Trill asked. 

' Ob, I don't exactly know. But, you see, it is so 
many years ago since lu; left his father, and during that 
time he has never had any communication with any 
member of his family/ 

^Well, of course, that somewhat goes against him. 
But still, as the son of the late Major M^Niven, he should 
have no di£Eculty in placing his rights beyond suspicion.' 

^ True, and yet he may find it difficult.' 


* Because there are so many things he will have to 

'Just so, but he should have no difficulty in proving 

* It's easier said than done, I expect. It's not likely the 
present owner will walk quietly out of possession simply 
because a man comes forward and says, '^ I am the rightiful 
owner of this property." ' 

' No, of course not. In such cases a lawsuit is inevit- 

' That is where it is, and that is where my son may fail,' 
exclaimed the lady. 

* I can't see that,' insisted Trill. 

'It's easily seen. Lawyers will be paid to rake up 
every little thing against him likely to throw doubt on his 
identity ; and any discrepancy in his statements may be 
fatal to him.' 

' There is not the slightest doubt,' said Trill, ' that the 
uncle's lawyers will use every possible endeavour to discredit 


the claimant ; but^ really, Mrs. Molloy, I cannot for the 
life of me see how your son, if he is your son, and the son 
of the late Major M^Niven, is going to be ousted from his 
position of lawful heir. We know what lawyers will do, 
and how utterly unscrupulous they are in their professional 
capacity ; but if he is furnished with the necessary proofs 
that will be called for he need not fear all the lawyers in 

*Well, we shall see, we shall see,' muttered Mrs. 
M^Niven, rather to herself than as if she was replying to a 
remark $ and the expression of her face betrayed the mental 
anxiety she was suffering from. Trill left her with a 
strong opinion that she was party to a conspiracy, and he 
resolved to get at the bottom of it. 

He found from cautious inquiries he made in the district 
that nobody knew much or anything about Mrs. * MoUoy V 
son. Certainly she had had no son living with her ; 
although a European gentleman was known to have visited 
her recently. This feet brought to light a discrepancy at 
once, because the claimant averred that he had not heard of 
the death of his father before owing to his living in the 
wilds of Cashmere. Trill ascertained that she had resided 
in that part of Cashmere for about four years, and his next 
step was to discover where she had lived previous to going 
to Cashmere. He found that by a law of the country every 
owner of property had to be registered, and his nationality 
stated, and the pkce from whence he had come. By this 
means he discovered that Mr. * Molloy ' described himself as 
a British subject, native of India. Last place of residence, 

To Benares Trill turned his steps, feeling that there, 
probably, he might get hold of some interesting particulars. 
Molloy is not altogether an uncommon name ; but, of 
course, in a place like Benares, where Europeans are 
relatively few, their movements may be traced much more 
easily than in a place like Calcutta or Bombay even. He 
found after a little inquiry that an Eurasian, calling himself 
Molloy, and his wife had kept a small general European 


store in Benares for several years. During their residence 
in the city they buried a son who died from dysentery, and 
whose age was given as twenty-five. He had helped his 
father and mother in the management of the store. 

This was a revelation indeed, for the presumption was 
that the young man who had been buried in the name of 
Molloy was none other than the only son of M^or M'Niven, 
and if that were so it was obvious that Mrs. M^Niven was a 
party to a very serious fraud. The ^ MoUoys ' had secretly sold 
their store to a native baboo, and had left Benares hurriedly, 
neglecting to pay several heavy debts they owed. It was not 
known what had become of them. It turned out that 
during his illness Mrs. M*Niven's son — that is, the young 
fellow known as • Molloy* — had been attended by an 
English doctor practising amongst the Europeans in Benares. 
This gentleman was still there, and Trill was able to inter- 
view him. He expressed himself as positive that the patient 
could not have been the son of the Eurasian who called 
himself Molloy, as he was undoubtedly a pure-blooded 
European. He bore a strong resemblance, however, to Mrs. 
Molloy, and he was conspicuous by a large white scar, as of 
a burn, on his left hand. This scar attracted attention at 
once by its size and ghastly white appearance. 

Trill was careful to furnish himself with documentary 
evidence of these particulars, signed by the doctor, and 
sworn to in the presence of the chief magistrate of the dis- 
trict, and feeling satisfied now that the claimant was an 
impostor he returned to London and made known his dis- 
coveries. He was then instructed to find out who the 
claimant was. 

It will be remembered that when Major M*Niven felt 
his end approaching he had told his lawyers to draw up his 
will, as he wished to leave everything to his only son if 
living. As a means to the identification of that son, he was 
described as having a very large white scar on the back of 
the left hand, the result of his hand coming in contact with 
a brazier of burning charcoal when he was a little fellow. 
He was further described as having blue eyes, light brown 


hair^ a rather prominent nose, and peculiarly small cars for 
a boy. These particulars tallied in every detail with those 
supplied by the Benares doctor, who said he had been much 
struck by the smallness of the young man's ears and the 
rather prominent nose. The prominent nose, it appeared, 
ran in the M*Niven femily. 

There could now be no shadow of doubt that the young 
man who died in Benares and was buried in the name of 
MoUoy was Major M^Niven's son, and in order to make the 
case complete against the claimant it was important to 
prove who he was. Instead of being blue-eyed and fair, he 
had brown eyes and dark brown hair, and he spoke with a pro- 
nounced Scottish accent, which would hardly have been 
possible if he were the person he represented himself to be. 
Whoever he might be, however, it W2S evident that he 
knew a great deal about the Major, and was in collusion 
with Mrs. M*Niven, who had aided and abetted him in the 
fraud. In order to get at the truth, if possible, Vincent 
Trill contrived to get into the claimant's company without 
arousing his suspicion or allowing him to know who he was. 
At this time the claimant was living in good style at a first- 
class hotel, for on the strength of his prospects he had 
experienced no difficulty whatever in raising money. 

It has been stated in the course of these records that 
Trill had the peculiar feculty of almost reading a person'^ 
mind. That is to say, he drew certain deductions from 
expression, looks, mode of answering questions, and other 
details, and in a general way these deductions were right. 
Ht had made a life-long study of facial play and expression, 
and this, coupled with a peculiar adroitness he had in framing 
questions — an adroitness that would have made the fortune 
of a barrister called upon to do much cross-examination — he 
was frequently enabled to determine with startling accuracy 
if his suspicions of the person he was probing were justified 
or not. In this instance he confirmed his view that the 
claimant was an impostor, but he did more than that, for he 
managed to elicit from him — of course the information was 
given inadvertently — that he was well acquainted with 


Edinburgh, and knew a good deal of Major M'Niven's doings 
during the time the Major was residing at Queensferry. 

After this instructive interview Trill went to Queens- 
ferry with the intention of learning something about the 
people who had made up the Major's household. Ferguson, 
the gardener, was dead, but his widow still lived, though, 
owing to terrible sufiering from rheumatism, she was not 
only a helpless cripple, but somewhat impaired in intellect. 
When she was questioned about her son, James Ferguson, 
who served the Major in the capacity of body-servant, 
she became deeply aiFected and wept bitterly, saying that 
he had proved an ungrateful son, and had gone away, leaving 
no trace behind of his whereabouts. Trill was enabled 
to secure a photograph of the lost son, which, on closely 
comparing it with the claimant to the M^Niven property, 
proved to be his likeness, though he had most ingeniously 
succeeded in so altering his appearance that it was only by 
a close comparison that the claimant could be identified as 
the original of the portrait. 

Although the evidence up to this point was conclusive 
— ^and there was no room to doubt that the claimant and 
James Ferguson were one — it was not considered advisable 
at that moment to let him know how the net had been 
woven about him, but his lawyers were given to understand 
that the most strenuous resistance would be oiFered to their 
client's claim. It was clear that James Ferguson was 
working in collusion with the erring Mrs. M^Niven, who 
lived in Cashmere, and it was no less clear that he had visited 
her, and during that visit she had no doubt supplied him 
with a great deal of necessary information with a view to his 
substantiating his claim. Under these circumstances it was 
deemed justifiable to examine Ferguson's luggage for 
letters or documents calculated to throw light upon the 
conspiracy. The fact of his staying at an hotel rendered 
this comparatively easy, without the claimant knowing any- 
thing about it. Of course the landlord of the hotel was taken 
into confidence, and any objection he might have been dis- 
posed to make was at once overcome by the production of a 


magistrate's order, which had been obtained on the strength 
of various affidavits and sworn infannstUan^ which indicated 
that a base fraud had been^and was still being, perpetrated with 
a view to depriving the lawful owner of a large amount of 
property. A time (or the examination was chosen when it 
was known that the claimant was absent. On the strength 
of his ^expectations' he had experienced no difficultjr 
whatever in raising money, for greedy people abound, and 
are eager to lend money at exorbitant interest to people 
who have a £iir prospect of succeeding to property. The 
claimant had managed to obtain from one firm of money- 
lenders alone the sum of five hundred pounds, for which he had 
given a bill at three months for one thousand pounds, the bill 
to be renewed at the end of each quarter, for another three 
months, up to a year. Being thus well supplied with funds, 
the young man was thoroughly enjoying himself after the 
manner of his kind, and on the day when certain representa- 
tives of the majesty of the law were so particularly interested 
in examining his trunks, he was enjoying himself at some 
races, having driven out of town in a break accompanied by 
a few cronies of the ' Rowdy Dowdy Boys ' class ; and as he 
had no idea of what had been done, and was still being done, 
by those who were seeking for truth in the matter, his 
pleasures were not clouded by any shadow of coming events. 
The search was far more successful than anyone had 
dared to hope. In one of his boxes there was found a 
mahogany writing-case, and when this had been duly opened 
and its contents subjected to an examination, the examiners 
were very amply rewarded for their trouble, for not only was 
it made abundantly clear that the young gentleman who 
represented himself as the son of the late Major M^Niven, 
and consequently his heir-at-law, was not Major M^Niven's 
son at all, but was none other than Jamie Ferguson, son of 
old Ferguson, who had been gardener to the Major. Jamie, 
it will be remembered, was the Major's body-servant, and 
had to wait upon him hand and foot. Jamie was an obser- 
vant, fiir-seeing youth, and during the period of his service 
he learnt and saw a great deal, and must have become very 


intimately acquainted with the Major's affitirs. It appeared 
that Major M^Niven, being a precise and methodical man, 
had recorded in writing the events of his career, and had 
given copious details of his wife's elopement and of her 
infamy in depriving him of his only son. Some time after 
this he had made an entry to the effect that she was still 
with the man she had gone off" with, and that they passed 
under the name of Molloy. These and many other things 
did Jamie Ferguson learn, and, being an ambitious young 
gentleman, he was desirous of reaching a higher social level 
than that of a gentleman's lackey. At the same time, as 
was made obvious, he was not very particular about the 
means he adopted to reach that level, so long as they didn't 
include hard work, to which he seemed to have a particular 
objection. Major M^Niven, who was very kind to him, 
had from time to time presented him with various sums of 
money, totalling up, in the aggregate, to a considerable 
amount. This money Jamie had carefiiUy treasured, and 
after his master's death he seems to have conceived the bold 
and daring idea of proceeding to India, and trying to find the 
Major's widow, who chose to be known as Mrs. Molloy. 
Jamie's first intention — as gathered from various memoranda 
of his own making — was, if he should succeed in finding the 
heir, to endeavour to make the information he could give 
him profitable to himself. Indeed, reading between the 
lines of his journal — if it could be called such — it is by no 
means doing him a wrong to suppose that if he had found 
young M^N iven alive he would not have hesitated to put 
him effectually out of the way, if favourable opportunity 

After much searching, it was made manifest that he was 
successful in his quest so far as Mrs. M^Niven, alias Molloy, 
was concerned. And having found her and come to the 
knowledge that the true heir had departed to a better world, 
it occurred to his ingenious mind to personate him. Such a 
woman as Mrs. M^Niven was not likely to have any scruples 
ii^lending her aid, and the prospect of reaping a rich reward 
herself still ftirther stimulated her to energy. 


All this was proved by letters that had passed between 
her and the impostor, and by copious entries and remarks of 
his own. In keeping this documentary evidence he only 
followed the traditional stupidity of the criminally inclined, 
who would seem to imagine that they can conceal their evil 
intentions from the eye of heaven itself. 

Two days after this damning evidence of Jamie Ferguson's 
guilt was brought to light, he was arrested under a warrant, 
which amongst other things went on to state that — 
* Whereas the said James Ferguson, fraudulently and with 
evil intent, had falsely and maliciously represented himself to 
be the son and heir of the late Major M^Niven, with a view 
to acquiring certain properties and estates to which he had 
no legitimate or lawful claim. And whereas such represen- 
tations of the said James Ferguson were wicked and evil, and 
contrary to the laws made and done for the well-governing of 
her Majesty's realm, the said James Ferguson is hereby 
ordered to be arrested, and to show cause why he should 
not be tried on a charge of fraud and conspiracy,' &c., &c. 

It is not necessary to repeat the details of the trial, 
which those who are curious may learn for themselves by 
consulting the newspapers of the day ; but after an in- 
quiry spreading over many days Jamie Ferguson was found 
guilty on all the counts, and as the offence was considered a 
very serious one, he was sentenced to twenty years' penal 
servitude. The attempt that was made to include Mrs. 
M^Niven and her paramour in the indictment failed on a 
technical point of law, and they escaped. 



Chapter I 


A BALD-HEADEDy florid-faced, patrician-looking gentleman, 
on the wrong side of sixty, and with certain indications in his 
portly figure and his ruby complexion that he was a bon 
viveur^ sat at a well-appointed breakfast table in an equally 
well-appointed and even richly furnished room of almost 
noble proportions. A cheerful fire blazed on the hearth, its 
ruddy light being reflected in the highly-polished fender and 
fire-irons. A few well-executed oil paintings of sporting 
subjects hung on the richly papered walls, and the two long 
windows by which the room was lighted were artistically 
and gracefully draped with costly velvet curtains. The 
view from these windows was over a lawn and extensive 
garden that dipped towards a valley ; in the view a very 
wide panorama was embraced of rolling coimtry and wood- 
land height. But far away on the right, almost on the sky 
line, was a forest of tall chimneys of a great manufacturing 
town, and the volume of dense smoke that hung over this 
town and descended like a dun canopy into the valley where 
the river flowed was a foul blot on what was otherwise a 
perfect landscape. It was winter now, and everything was 
very dreary. The atmosphere was charged with a Seepy 
mist, and the bare trees shivered in the pitiless icy wind 
that moaned over the land. 

On the right-hand side of the gentleman who sat at the 


bneakfast table was the contents of the morning mail bag. 
Some of the letters were still unopened, others had been 
hastily scanned and tossed heedlessly on one side ; but one 
he still held in his hand, and it was obvious from his 
expression that its contents had disquieted, annoyed, in fact 
highly irritated him ; and his gold-rimmed glasses could not 
conceal nor even soften the angry, almost fierce, light in his 
grey eyes, which, for a man of his age and temperament, 
were exceptionally clear and bright. 

Presently the massive door which communicated with 
the passage opened, and a lady of medium height presented 
herself. She had a severe cast of countenance ; was attired 
with almost Quaker-like plainness, and carried with her the 
outward and visible signs of a rigid adherence to spinster- 
hood. Adown the sides of her face, which was oval, 
colourless, and wrinkled, and rendered more unpleasant by a 
fixed, soured, and cynical expression, fell stiff ringlets of 
iron-grey hair. Her upper lip was faintly shaded by a 
downy growth of hair, and a hard, cold light gleamed from 
her unsympathetic steel-blue eyes. She was somewhat bony 
of frame, the angularities of which were emphasised by a 
tightly-fitting but not altogether inartistically cut gown. 
She wore mittens, and was conspicuous by the absence of 
anything in the shape of personal adornment. Although 
the gentleman at the table was plump and ruddy of face, 
whereas the lady was bony and colourless, it was impossible 
not to be struck by the strong family likeness that pro- 
claimed them relations. 

* I suppose, Peter,* she said, in a harsh, dry voice, * you 
are going to town this morning ? Shall I order the gig to 
be got ready ? * 

* I don*t know,* he snapped irritably. * Yes — no. Ton 
my word I scarcely know what I shall do. The post has 
brought me damned unpleasant news. Here, read that.' 

As he spoke he tossed the letter to her, rose abruptly 
from his seat, and placed himself with his back to the fire, 
his fat hands twisting nervously under his coat tails, and his 
right foot beating a tattoo on the hearthrug. 



The lady took up the letter from the table, sank into a 
chair, and, raising her long-handled gold glasses to her eyes, 
read what follows: 

* RuMBOLD, CaAWFORD & Co., Solicitors, 

Crane Court* London : December lo, 1817. 
■To Peter Pinkley, Esq., 

The Manor, Winchstone-on-the-Hilli 
Near Ribchester. 

* Dear Sir, — Yourself v.* Richard Stonor and others. 
It is our duty to inform you that this matter has at last been 
decided by Lord Chief Justice Scovell, and we regret to 
say it has been decided against you, with costs, which we are 
afraid will be very heavy. Although we are entitled to appeal 
against this decision, and to carry the matter into the House 
of Lords, we cannot recommend such a course, as we are 
convinced that Lord Chief Justice Scovell's decision will be 
upheld, while the expense to yourself would be ruinous. 
We therefore venture to suggest that in your own interest 
you should abide by the verdict. If you decide to appeal, 
however, notice of such appeal must be lodged within four 
days from your receipt of this letter. We therefore await 
your instructions, and beg you to believe. Dear Sir, that we 
are always your devoted and obedient servants, 

* RuMBOLD, Crawford & Co.* 

* Well, what do you think of that ? * asked Peter Pinkley 
sharply between his set teeth, as Miss Jane Pinkley — ^his 
sister — let her mittened hands, still grasping the letter, fall 
into her lap, and stared at him with a bewildered, dumb- 
foundered expression on her ashen &ce. 

^ I think it is in&mous,' murmured the lady, with a quick 
rising and falling of her bony bosom as she caught her breath 
jerkily like one who sobs. 

* infamous,' echoed Peter with a bitter laugh. ^In- 
famous is not the word. It's damnable, and Lord Chief 
Justice Scovell ought to be shot. I don't know what the 
country is coming to when such men are placed upon the 
bench to administer so-called justice. I say it's shameful ; 


it's downright robbery, and Scovell, like all his brother 

1'udges, is a biassed rascal. I won't stand it. I will appeal. 
'11 carry the case to the House of Lords * 

* Don't/ interrupted his sister with a peculiar decisiveness 
of manner. * What interest have Rumbold, Crawford & Co. 
in advising you not to appeal if they thought there was the 
ghost of a chance of getting Lord Chief Justice Scovell's 
decision set aside ? If they won the case they would make 
a handsome thing out of it, but if they lost you would be 
ruined, and they would get nothing.' 

* But, good God, woman, I'm utterly, absolutely ruined 
as it is. The business, as you know, has been tottering to 
its fall for a long time. This last blow will crush it. I tell 
you, we are ruined, ruined, ruined ! ' he repeated the word in 
a high crescendo, and flung himself up and down the room in 
a state of blustering excitement. 

Miss Pinkley was greatly distressed, and a tear or two 
trickled down her cheeks and dropped on to her mittened 
hands ; and opening the little silver-rimmed satchel suspended 
from her waist, she drew forth her handkerchief and scent- 
bottle, and, wiping her face with the one, she sniffed vigorously 
at the other. 

*There, don't excite yourself,' roared Peter with ludicrous 
inconsistency ; * keep cool, as I do. We must think the 
matter over. I'll sleep on it 5 but I tell you again, we are 

^ No ? I hope it's not as bad as that.' 

* There you are. Woman-like, of course, you contradict 
for contradiction's sake. I tell you there is nothing for it 
but bankruptcy and the workhouse, and we shall have to 
swallow down our pride and pedigree as best we can.' 

Miss Pinkley was genuinely af!ected and shed copious 
tears, and Mr. Pinkley, who, far from being unsympathetic, 
was much affected himself, patted her on the back and said: 

* There, there, it's no use fretting and fuming over it. 
We must stare the situation in the face, and see if there is 
any way out of our difficulties. Go and tell Ryan to put 
the bay mare into the gig, and to drive me to the office.' 


Miss Pinkley mopped up her tears; and glancing at 
herself in the mantel glass she gave a twist to her side curls 
and with a long-drawn sigh she hurried from the room. 

When she had gone her brother allowed his feelings to 
find full vent, and he paced up and down with the restlessness 
of an uncontrollable agitation ; one moment he thrust his 
hands deep into his breeches pockets, the next played 
nervously with the massive seals that dangled from his tob^ 
and anon he tugged at his scant grey hairs ; and finally he 
sank into a huge chair, bit his finger nails, nursed his chin 
in his palms, frowned, sucked in his nether lip, stared at the 
fire, drummed with his feet, after the manner of a man 
through whose mind varying emotions were passing, until 
at last having arrived at a point of decision he jumped up, 
thrust the letter containing the disturbing intelligence into 
his pocket, locked up the others in an escritoire, and then 
went out. 

In the hall his sister was waiting for him. She wound a 
mufiler round his throat, helped him on with his heavy coat, 
handed him his hat and gloves, and pressed her thin lips to 
his cheek, and, putting a mittened hand on each of his 
shoulders, said sympathetically : 

* Don't be long away, reter, and be sure you bring 
Frank home with you. I shall be miserable until you come 

Mr. Peter Pinkley returned his sister's embrace, then 
descended the steps under the great portico. A smart gig, 
to which a handsome bay mare was harnessed, was waiting, 
and Ryan, the groom, was holding the horse's head. Mr. 
Pinkley finished drawing on his gloves, running his eye the 
while with the air of a connoisseur over the clean-cut limbs 
of the steed, and, having patted her on the neck, a little 
attention she joyfully acknowledged, he mounted the vehicle 
and gathered up the reins, and when Ryan had taken his 
seat beside him, he waved a final adieu to his sister, and 
then drove off in the direction of the canopy of smoke that 
was being belched forth from the huge chimneys on the 


Chapter II 


The Pinkleys and the Stonors were branches of the well- 
known and somewhat renowned Border family of the 
Maitlands. It will be remembered that there was a 
Maitland who greatly distinguished himself as a moss-trooper 
and cattle lifter. For a long time he was the terror of the 
Border^ and seemed to bear a charmed life, for many fruitless 
attempts were made to capture or kill him. But he 
reached a green old age and came to an inglorious end. 
He had been carousing with some kindred spirits one winter 
night, and while endeavouring to reach his home he missed 
his way, and riding into the River Eden was drowned. 

Later there was a Judge Cope Maitland, who shed 
lustre on the judicial bench, and died fiill of years and 
honour ; and that very distinguished and illustrious soldier, 
Major-General Maitland, who figured conspicuously in 
many of our Indian wars. At the beginning of the 
eighteenth century a Miss Maitland was given in marriage 
to William Pinkley, eldest son of Squire Pinkley of Pinkley 
Hall^ near Brough, in Westmoreland. A year later her 
youngest sister. Miss Mary Maitland, married Daniel 
Stonor, whose people were extensive landowners in the 
northern country. From these two branches there was a 
prolific increase, and a strange intermingling of prosperity 
and vicissitude. There were provident members and profli- 
gates, and the family fortunes went through many changes. 
Nevertheless, the families were united in no ordinary degree. 

It became quite a proverb in the North, when wishing 
to indicate the stability of anything, to say it was as firm as 
the Pinkleys' and the Stonors clannishness. 

It was about the middle of the eighteenth century that 
the manufacturing firm of Pinkley, Adams & Roe was 
founded at Ribchester, noted for its smoke, its collieries, and 
its commercial enterprise. For a long time the firm 


flourished amazingly, until at last competition and depression 
in trade made themselves felt, and the prosperity of the firm 
seemed to be passing away. 

At the period at which this story begins, although the 
name of the old firm was continued, the business was 
entirely in the hands of Mr. Peter Pinkley and his son, 
Frank. Mr. Pinkley was a widower. His wife had been 
dead a good many vears, having borne him two sons, the 
eldest of whom diea young. At the time of his marriage 
Mr. Pinkley had purchased the manor estate at Winchstone- 
on-the-Hill, about six miles from Ribchester. At that 
time it was an extensive property, but hard times had 
compelled him to part with the greater portion of it, until 
only the old mansion itself and a few acres of timber land 
remained to him. 

Frank Pinkley was a handsome young man of about 
seven-and-twenty. He practically managed his father's 
business, and was regarded as a long-headed, shrewd 
business man ; keen at driving bargains, and somewhat 
unscrupulous. He had been wild and reckless, and in his 
youth was sent to India to some relatives ; but after a few 
years returned home with rather a bad record. It was said 
that he was fond of gaming, that he was idle, that he loved 
the wine cup, and was too much given to the society of 
ladies. However, when his father took him into the 
business he seemed to settle down, and putting his shoulder 
to the wheel he appeared to be determined to retrieve the 
fortunes of the firm. 

While the Pinkleys had thus devoted themselves to 
trade and commercial pursuits, the other branch of the 
family — the Stonors — adhered to the professions, and distin- 
guished themselves in many ways. But between them 
there had never been any difference. They were proud of 
their common ancestry, and the Stonors would have been 
quick to defend the honour of the Pinkleys, and the 
Pinkleys would have been just as quick to defend the 
honour of the Stonors. 

But the rift in the lute came at last. It was due, as is 


so often the case in femilies, to some dispute about property. 
Gradually the rift widened as more important interests 
became involved, until it resulted in a great cleavage, and 
all friendly intercourse between the Stonors and the Pinkleys 
came to an end, to the amazement and astonishment of every- 
one who knew them. 

At this time Frank Pinkley was paying his addresses to 
his cousin, a Miss Gertrude Stonor, second daughter of Mr. 
Richard Braithwaite Stonor, of the Hall, Headsnook, near 
Carlisle. Richard Stonor was a man of considerable impor- 
tance in the district, being a landowner and a justice of the 
peace. He had run rather a wild career, and the breath of 
scandal had not left his reputation altogether undimmed. 
He, too, was a widower, although he had been married 
twice, and had a pretty numerous family. His eldest son 
had been in the army, but had thrown up his commission 
owing — so rumour ran — to certain gambling transactions, 
he being an inveterate gambler ; indeed, it seemed to be a 
vice of both branches of the femily. Since leaving the 
service he had done nothing, dividing his time between 
Headsnook and London, but spending much more of it in 
London than at Headsnook. 

Between Mr. Peter Pinkley and Mr. Richard Braithwaite 
Stonor unpleasant differences arose about money matters. 
Pinkley borrowed large sums of money from Stonor, and at 
last they got at loggerheads over a disputed account of a 
thousand pounds which Stonor averred Pinkley owed him, 
but which Pinkley stoutly denied. This was the beginning 
of the rift ; the ill-feeling engendered spread from one to 
another until it developed into a bitter feud. Two or three 
duels had been fought with serious results ; there had been 
litigation and counter-litigation, and enmity and hatred 
displayed themselves on every possible occasion. 

Of course the engagement between Frank Pinkley and 
Gertrude Stonor was broken o£F, and in order to show how 
little she was afifected by this disappointment, the young 
lady became the wife of Lieutenant Hunter of the 
Coldstream Guards six months later, and was known to 




have exprened amazement that she could ever have seen 
anything in her cousin to admire. 

There is no doubt that Mr. Peter Pinkley was the greatest 
sufierer by the family rupture. For a long time things had 
been going wrong with him, and a run of bad business 
years had had a somewhat disastrous efiect upon his ex- 
chequer. The Pinkleys certainly did not represent the 
money side of the fiimily. The Stonors somehow or 
another had managed to lay their hands upon the principal 
portions of the family estates, and these they succeeded in 
keeping amongst them. But a very considerable property 
had been in dispute for a long time between Peter Pinkley 
and Richard Stonor. A somewhat eccentric ancestor, a 
certain Paul Maitland, who had been dead sixty years, never 
married, owing, as it was said, to a disappointment in his 
youth ; but as he advanced in years he found himself 
almost entirely deserted, notwithstanding his wealth ; for 
he was miserly, of an evil temper, drank a good deal, and was 
generally objectionable. 

But at last he found a young woman — one Betty Stowell 
—who was willing to attend to him and look after his house. 
Betty was exceedingly good-looking, but exceedingly igno- 
rant. She was the daughter of a farmer, and could milk, 
bake, brew, concoct wonderfiil herbal remedies, and was 
capable of making herself singularly useful about a house ; 
but she had never had a day's schooling in her life. For 
years she fulfilled the part of a wife to old Paul Maitland, 
putting up with all his foibles and objectionable charac- 
teristics until he died. 

Of course she had not sacrificed herself in this way 
without ulterior motives. She had an eye on his property, 
and he always gave her to understand that she should have 
everything. But by his will he directed that she should 
continue to occupy his house as long as she lived, and enjoy 
the income derived from Jiis property of every kind, though not 
a tree, net ^ vard of land, not a brick, not a stick of fiiriuture 
could she sell or bestow ; and even the limited privileges 
accorded her were to cease if she marded. At her death 




the property was to pass to his nearest relatives in the male 

Betty accepted her fate, and as the income was large and 
constantly increasing as land became more valuable, she 
managed to enjoy herself, and to live to a green old age, 
when she paid the debt of nature. 

Then Peter Pinkley put in a claim to the property, and 
Richard Braithwaite Stonor counter-claimed, and there was 
pretty work for the lawyers. The legal gentlemen rubbed 
their hands with elee, for they knew that, whoever went 
without, they would feather their nests well. 

For years the litigation went on. Fiercer and fiercer 
grew the feeling of hatred between the two families. The 
Stonors in a body opposed themselves to the Pinkleys, and 
the worst of blood was engendered. All over the country 
side the split in the family relations was known as ^ The 
Great Cleavage,' and it was certain that if a Pinkley met a 
Stonor there would be warm work. 

It need scarcely be said that the law costs in this great 
case were very heavy, and they proved a tremendous strain on 
Pinkley's slender resources. Of course, the whole business 
could have been settled in a few weeks if the lawyers had 
chosen. It was a harvest to them, and those who were not 
engaged in it envied those who were. It is shameful that 
lawyers should have it in their power to impoverish estates 
and ruin clients in the way they do ; but as lawyers make 
the laws for themselves it will ever be so. 

At last one of the parties to the suit was summoned to a 
higher tribunal than any on earth. That was Mr. Richard 
Braithwaite Stonor, who died suddenly from an attack of 
apoplexy after a rather warm night with a select party of 
fi'iends, who mixed their liquor freely and gambled till day- 
break, when they all had to be put to bed. 

^ Judge' Stonor, as he was commonly called in the 
district, although he was nothing more than a J.P., was 
seized with a fit sdon after, and though he was freely bled by 
t^6 Surgeons, whd were hastily summoned fr6m Carlisle, it 
was of no avaiL He never ralliied, but died four hours after 



the seizure without having recovered consciousness or had 
the benefit of dergv. 

When Mr. Pinldey heard of the death of his kinsman he 
did not disguise the fact that he felt no concern. Indeed, to 
be strictlv truthful, he was really glad, thinking that some- 
how it might advantage his cause. But, of course, the eldest 
son at once stepped into the breach thus created ; and 
his name was substituted for his father's in the suit. 
Needless to say, this change was made an excuse by the 
lawyers for still further prolonging the suit, and so it went 
on dragging its weary length, and Peter Pinkley w^ buoyed 
up always with the hope that he would at length come out 
triumphant, until this hope was finally destroyed by that 
crushing letter fi'om Rumbold, Crawford & Co., of Crane 
Court, London. Although these gentlemen knew perfectly 
well that Lord Chief Justice Scovdl's decision could not he 
upset, as it was based upon perfectly sound law as law goes, 
they would have been ddighted to have taken the matter to 
the House of Lords, as they would have still gone on piling 
on fees ; but they were aware that their client, Pinkley, 
was in a very shaky condition financially, and was already 
deeply in their debt, and the chances were they would never 
get paid a penny. 

Miss Jane Pinkley was Peter's sister. She shared his 
house with him — that is, she acted as his housekeeper, looked 
after him and his son, kept the servants in order, and watched 
over all the household afiairs generally. She was somewhat 
severdy puritanical in her views, and preached a great deal 
to her brother and her nephew about their — ^as she described 
it — lack of due reverence. 

As a matter of fact, both father and son were worldly 
men, and concerned themselves infinitely more about things 
mundane than things spiritual. Peter was in the habit of 
saying, to his sister's intense horror, that it took him all his 
time to look after his affiiirs in this world, withourwasting 
it over a world he knew nothing at all about. Neverthdess, 
Jane Pinklejr was strongly attached to her brother, and dis- 
played great ^Section for her nefphew. 


Chapter III 


When Mr. Pinkley reached his office he was in anything 
but a pleasant humour ; when he wasn't in a pleasant 
humour his language was not particularly choice, and it 
fared ill with anyone who was unfortunate enough to get in 
his way. On this particular morning he made things rather 
unpleasant all round. He scolded the clerks and book- 
keepers, and bullied the workmen, and when at last his son 
ventured to remonstrate with him when they were together 
in the private room, the old man flung the lawyers' letter 
at the young man's head, saying bitterly : 

^ Read that and you'll no longer wonder at my bad temper. 
What the devil are we going to do now ? We are ruined, 
absolutely ruined, and I see nothing before me but pauperism.' 

He spoke very bitterly, and gnawed the feathers from a 
quill pen with a savage energy. 

Frank stooped, picked up the letter, and as he perused it 
his face underwent a great change, indicating the keenness 
of his emotions. 

Young Pinkley's appearance was not entirely preposses- 
sing to the critical eye. He was by no means bad-looking — 
indeed, by some he was considered handsome — ^and was well 
set up, with broad shoulders, and a mass of light brown curly 
hair. But his &ce bore incipient signs of dissipation ; there 
was a peculiar expression in his dark blue eyes, which never 
looked at one straight, while the somewhat squarely cut jaw 
was suggestive of a nature that was at least callous, if not 
cruel. He was generally regarded as a secretive man, firm 
in character, decisive, determined, unforgiving when he 
thought he had been wronged, and most certainly selfish ; 
but withal capable of making himself extremely pleasant, if 
not absolutely fascinating. 

He had been well educated, had travelled a good deal 
more than generally fell to the lot of most young men of his 


day, and was skilful alike with the sword and the pistol, 
consequently, being hot-blooded and quick of temper, it was 
not considered a wise thing to provoke him unless the 
provoker was quite prepared to defend himself with vigour 
and skill. 

This, in rough outline, delineates young Frank Pinkley's 
character ; but, of course, there were deeper depths, and 
varying gradations ; and no doubt he was sufficiently plastic 
to be moulded and influenced by his environment whether 
it was for good or ill. So &r his environment had not been 
of a nature to improve him. 

For several moments after he had read the letter he stood 
irresolute, with something like an expression of despair on 
his iace, from which the colour had fled. 

* Yes. That is bad news,' he remarked at last, slowly, 
as he bit his lip and stared through the window, which only 
commanded a walled-in yard that was filled up with lumber 
in the shape of old boxes and an assortment of rubbish. 

^Bad news,' echoed the old man, with an unpleasant 
grin. ^ I should think it was. How are we going to avoid 
bankruptcy now ? * 

Frank did not answer for some moments. He was still 
pondering. His mind was busy at work, rapidly passing 
in view various things, and trying to give shape and defini- 
tion to different schemes that presented themselves suddenly 
like phantoms, and, like phantoms, disappeared. But at last 
he had laid hold of something, and turning to his father 
said : 

* Of course Dick Stonor gets the property ? * 

* Of course he does.* 

* Then I'll have it from him before he is three months 

* What do you mean ? * asked the old man, looking up 
in surprise, and staring at his son with wide-opened eyes. 

* Don't ask me for explanations now. I've none to give. 
Things will shape themselves. Have patience, and believe 
me, I will do what I say I will do.' 

^ But how on earth do you hope to get in three months 


what we have failed to get after years of trying .? It is 
certain you cannot get it legitimately, and to bring your- 
self within the grasp of the law would be madness/ 

* I will get it legitimately/ answered the son sternly and 
decisively, and hts whole face was marked with a fixed 

The old man knew too much of his son to ply him 
with questions which would never have been answered ; 
but it was clear he was sceptical, for he shrugged his 
shoulders contemptuously and said with a ring of mocking 
irony in his tone : 

^ I hope you will succeed. For my own part I shall go 
home and prepare for the crash. You are young and may 
do something ; but I and your aunt are old, and have 
nothing to look forward to but poverty and a parish grave.' 

'It is time enough to talk about the crash when it 
comes,' said Frank. * It hasn't come yet, and won't come.' 

The old man rose up with a bitter sneer playing about 
his white lips, and he remarked : 

^ It is a good thing to be sanguine, but we are absolutely 
and hopelessly insolvent, and on our side of the family there 
isn't an individual to whom we can look for the slightest 
assistance. These are hard, cruel facts which you know 
just as well as I do. Therefore, unless you are capable of 
performing miracles, the ruin cannot be averted.' 

*I shall perform no miracle,' returned the son drily, 

* but I intend to have the property. Do you hear ? I intend 
to have it ! ' 

^ I don't like this mystification,' snarled the old man. 

* Why don't you speak out and say what you have in your 
mind ? ' 

^Look here, dad,' said the son with great resolution, 
' I've no desire to mystify you, but I am going to keep my 
thoughts to myself at present ; so the least said the soonest 
mended ! I like to be judged by my acts and deeds, not 
by words/ 

Mr. Pinkley knew his son's disposition too well to waste 
further time in argument, and though he was on tenter- 



hooks he restrained himself. To him the prospect seemed 

floomy enough, and he could not take any sanguine view, 
[e had always been an extravagant man, with the tastes of 
a Sybarite, and he had gratified those tastes to the fullest 
extent. He was fond of good things, good living, and good 
company. He was lavish in his hospitality — though his 
hospitality was prompted rather by vanity and a love of 
display than by generous impulses. 

To such a man the idea of poverty and all the disgrace 
inseparable from bankruptcy were terrible to contemplate, 
and as he left his ofSce on that bitter winter afternoon he 
felt crushed and broken, for it was impossible to disguise 
the fact that he was hopelessly insolvent. Almost up to 
the last he believed that the judgment in the suit would 
have been given in his favour, and the sudden announce- 
ment to the contrary had come upon him like a thunderclap 
from a clear sky. 

That evening the Manor House was anything but a 
cheerful place. Although he did not deprive himself of 
any of his luxuries, and while he dined sumptuously, Mr. 
Pinkley saw the skeleton at the feast, and he was haunted 
by the most gloomy forebodings. Young Pinkley was 
silent and reserved, and gave no outward sign of what was 
passing in his mind. He dined well, did full justice to the 
meal, and shared a bottle of port with his father afterwards. 

But the old man was like ^ a bear with a sore head,' as 
the saying is ; he grumbled and growled at this and that, 
and rated Fortune, which he declared was a jade and had 
played him false. 

Poor Miss Pinkley had rather a bad time of it. She 
endeavoured to prevail over the men folk by allusions of a 
spiritual nature, and insisted that the trials and troubles of 
life were sent for a good purpose, and that the wind was 
tempered to the shorn lamb. This provoked her brother 
into hot and hasty retort ; he demanded of his sister angrily 
if she had never witnessed the shorn lambs, shivering as if 
with ague, in the bitter east winds of March and April ; 
^nd he wound up witl^ denouncing all such maxiips as arrant 


bofih ; and when the lady showed an inclination to resent this 
irreverence he flatly told her to betake herself to Jericho — 
only he didn't say Jericho. 

However, after the port wine had been disposed of, a 
more genial atmosphere seemed to spread itself over the 
household, and, some visitors dropping in, punch was brewed 
and backgammon played. 

December worked itself out with a display of every kind 
of the most disagreeable weather, and the New Year came 
in, bringing the responsibilities as regards engagements and 
the balancing of accounts. 

By parting with a small property he possessed in another 
part of the country, Mr. Pinkley was enabled to keep the 
wolves from rending him, but he was well aware that it was 
only a temporary relief. During the weeks that had passed 
since the receipt of the fatal letter, young Frank had never 
once again reverted to the matter, and at last, provoked by 
his reticence, his father sneeringly demanded to know when 
he was going to give e£Fect to his boast that he would 
acquire the property from Dick Stonor. 

^ I shall be able to answer your question a little later 
on,* replied Frank with irritating composure. *In the 
meantime I am going off* to London.' 

^ To London ! ' exclaimed his father. 

* Yes, dad. Why express such surprise? I've been to 
London before.* 

* You have,' retorted his father, with a certain suppressed 
fierceness that carried much meaning. ^Do you journey 
now on behalf of the firm ? ' he asked sternly. 

* No.' 

* On what business go you then ? ' 

^ Business of great moment. Of that I may assure you, 
and since I am no longer a child I may claim the capability 
to take care of myself.' 

For some years there had never been any confidences 
between Mr. rinkley and his son outside of the business. 
Frank kept his private afl&irs to himself, and resented any 
attempt that was ipade to draw him out. To his aunt h^ 


was always respectful^ even aflhctionate, but the fact could 
not be disguised that he treated his ^ther with a levity 
that, to say the least, was unbecoming. This was due in 
part to his having been allowed to run wild at an early age, 
and to having too much of his own way. And during his 
travds the company he kept had not tended to improve 
him. He was naturally wayward, perverse, and cynical, 
and his father, somehow or another, had failed to arouse in 
him that filial regard which a son should display. 

The old gentleman was painfully aware of this deficiency 
on the part of his son, and he knew furthermore that to 
attempt to control him would have been about as useless as 
attempting to control the winds or the sea waves. 

^No doubt you can take care of yourself,' said Mr. 
Pinkley bitterly, ^ but I, as your father, am surely worthy of 
your confidence. Since you think otherwise, however, go 
your own course ; but one question you surely cannot object 
to answer.' 

^ Certainly. I will answer any reasonable question, but 
I object to be catechised.' 

^ Tell me, then, is your journey to London in connection 
with the property question ? ' 

* It is.' 

^ And when may I look for your return ? ' 

^ I cannot even approximately fix a time. I may spend 
a week, or two, or even three in the metropolis; but you 
shall have news of me. I will send you letters.' 

With this promise and scant information Mr. Pinkley 
had to be satisfied, and the subject dropped ; and though he 
could not for the life of him conceive how his son was going 
to make good his words with reference to obtaining the 
property from Dick Stonor, he was not without hope that 
the journey to London would be productive of good result, 
for he had faith in his son's cleverness and placed reliance 
upon his judgment. 

A few days later four men were amongst the passengers 
by the mail coach from Carlisle to London. One of them 
was Frank Pinkley. The other three were bis companions, 


and as they figure somewhat prominently in subsequent events 
a few particulars concerning them are necessary. 

Francis Aveling was about the same age as Frank 
Pinkley. He had been in the army and had fought at 
Waterloo with his father, who held a commission in the 
Guards, arid fell during the ever memorable charge. Young 
Aveling had been severely wounded in the left foot, and was 
rendered permanently lame, consequently had to throw up 
the profession of arms. Being without means, he had since 
lived principally by his wits. He was a man of good address 
and gentlemanly appearance, and was much given to 
gambling, a vice which was very common among ail classes 
of society. He and Frank Pinkley had been acquainted for 
some years. 

Arthur Newland Kemp was the second son of a well- 
to-do Westmoreland farmer, and was about twenty-five. He 
did not live at home, his father having disowned him owing 
to his dissolute habits. He was an attractive young fellow, 
but of a delicate constitution, and bearing in his &ce pre- 
mature signs of incipient age. 

The third companion was Patrick Mullan, an Irishman 
by birth. He was forty or more, and of almost herculean 
build. Nature had endowed him with a scowling expression 
of countenance, dark piercing eyes, and close-cut black hair. 
His appearance was somewhat repellant, and he presented a 
striking contrast to the others. He was married, but 
separated from his wife, who was still in the service of 
Richard Stonor as dairymaid. Patrick had also been in 
Stonor's employ as gamekeeper, but was discharged for 
irregular conduct. 

Such were the four men who had entered into a strange 
conspiracy, and were journeying to London to carry out 
their nefarious plans. 


Chapter IV 


RicfifARD Jeffrey Stonor, who by the decision of Lord 
Chief Justice Scovell became the owner of the Maitland 
estates, was pleased to consider himself ^ a fashionable young 

In the early years of the century this meant a good deal 
more perhaps than it does now, and a gentleman of iashion 
in those days was nothing if he wasn't a hard drinker, hard 
swearer, hard rider, hard gamester, good fighter, and heartless ; 
gallant ^ Dick ' Stonor was all these thihgs and much more, 
for he had inordinate vanity, was arrogant, boastful, and 
purse-proud, and could not bear to be overreached by 
anybody or in any way. 

Dick spent much of his time in London. That was 
considered one of the things that a fashionable man should 
do. Up to this time, although verging on thirty, Dick had 
escaped matrimony, notwithstanding that various siren-like 
arts and wiles had been used to try and draw him into the 
web. But they had all failed. He was wont to say that 
he preferred blessed singleness to humdrum matrimony, 
which was all romance before marriage and all damnation 
after. This was rough, but characteristic of Dick Stonor. 

When in London Dick spent much of his time at the 
house of Mrs. Nellie Gray, whose life story, so far as it 
was known, was a romance. At one part of her career she 
had been upon the stage ; she had basked in the smiles of 
Royalty ; she had captivated old beaux until they laid their 
fortunes at her feet, then she packed them off about their 
business. Some went mad, some blew their brains out, 
some repented them of their folly and sought consolation in 
religion. Mrs. Nellie Gray bore the reputation of being the 
prettiest and wickedest woman in London town. Women 
hated her, men raved about her. 

Pretty Nellie rented a large house in the fashionable 


neighbourhood of Bloomsbury. Here she held receptions, 
and dicing and card playing were carried on often until the 
night had passed and the day was well advanced. 

To this house there came one February evening — it was 
the second of February, to be precise — Mr. Dick Stonor. jHc 
was admitted by a powdered flunkey, conducted up a flight of 
noble stairs, heavily carpeted, by a natty maid servant, and 
ushered into a magnificently furnished saloon by a page in 
livery ; and when the massive velvet curtains that hung at 
the portal had fallen into their place again as he passed and 
the page withdrew, a lady rose from a luxurious divan, 
and hurrying forward she flung her arms about his neck and 
greeted him with effusive warmth, and in terms of endear- 
ment such as * Dear old Dick,' * Darling boy,* * You 
disgraceful dear old fellow.' 

The lady was pretty Mistress Nellie Gray. She had the 
face of an angel, the eyes of a serpent, the cunning of the 
fox, the fescination of Circe, the grace of Juno, a form divine. 
It was the only thing divine about Nellie. She was attired 
in the daintiest of toilets, and her hair had been built up in 
the most elaborate and becoming fashion, evidently the work 
of an artist in his profession. 

The room, which was very large, was divided almost in 
the centre by elegant and massive curtains of maroon velvet, 
and the whole place was decorated and furnished in costly 
style. A cheerful fire of logs blazed on the capacious 
hearthstone, and as Dick looked cold and miserable the lady 
drew him into the warmth of the blaze, and, hanging on his 
arm, and looking up into his face with a syrenic expres- 
sion that would have tempted even good St. Anthony to his 
fall, she cooed to him like a cushat dove, and demanded to 
know wherefore he was so downcast and wretched looking. 

*I have been burning the candle very much at both 
ends,' he replied. ^ I lost heavily last night at Bailey's, and 
their wine has given me a racking headache.' ^ 

^ Poor silly old donkey,' chirruped the lady, as she stroked 
his face with her white velvety hands. ^ I will sooh put 
you right. You shall be nursed up for a f«w dayii.' 


* I intend to return home to-morrow,' he said irritably. 

^ We will see, we will see,' answered Nellie winsomely ; 
* but m wager a hundred guineas that in less than two hours 
you will be as lively as a grasshopper. I have arranged for 
a very quiet nieht ; to all but two or three specially 
favoured visitors I am to be denied.' 

^ I shall not play to-night, Nell,' he remarked surlily. 

^ What I a man and afeared ? ' she cried with a merry 
laugh. * Oh, fie!' 

^ I am not afraid, but I tell you I was hit very hard last 

^ And what of that ? You'll make up your losses to- 
night. Surely a man of your substance is not going to 
turn tail because he happens to lose once in a way. Now, 
then, be a dear good boy and do as I bid you or I'll have 
nothing more to say to you.' 

There was something so extraordinarily fascinating in the 
way she spoke, and the way she posed and moved, that Dick 
Stonor would have required to have been made of much 
sterner stuff had he been able to resist her. As it was, he 
seized her and tried to draw her to him ; but with a pretty 
little scream she put up her hands to keep him off, and 
exclaimed : 

^Mind, oh, mind my hair. Six mortal hours has 
Monsieur Boileau devoted to it to-day, and I cannot afford 
to have it disarranged.' 

She put up her dainty mouth for him to kiss her, and he 
pressed his lips to hers. 

^ There,' she said with a musical laugh, ^ that's quite 
enough. I'm not going to spoil you by too many luxuries. 
Now sit down.' 

She pushed him on to the divan, and he asked her to get 
him some Madeira. She was about to touch a bell, when he 
stopped her by saying : 

^ Never mind the servants. I want you to give it to me 

^ Well^ you have a good conceit of your own importanci,' 
she smiled ; at. the same tim« she went to a magni^cently 


carved sideboard, on which stood decanters of wine, and 
pouring some Madeira into a glass she placed the glass on to 
a silver salver and handed it to him. 

^ Don't you think I make a pretty waitress ? ' she asked. 

* Prettv/ he cried, * you are a goddess. I drink to 
you, Nell. 

He tossed the wine ofF and smacked his lips. 

* Ah, that's superb,' he said, * it puts new life into me. 
Give me a tumblerful. I want a big draught.' 

She filled a tumbler to the brim with the insidious liquor 
and gave it to him. He drained it and put the tumbler down. 

* Well,' he remarked, * if there's death in the cup it's a 
devilish pleasant death.' 

She sank down at his feet, and crossing her hands on 
his knees, she looked at him meaningly with her serpent- 
like eyes, and murmured : 

* How about going home to-morrow f ' 

* Let to-morrow take care of itself — I live to-night,' he 

Before she could make reply the striking of a bell warned 
them that somebody was mounting the stairs. She sprang 
up, patted him on the cheek, and seated herself in a chair at 
a decorous distance ; and in a few moments the heavy 
curtain screening the doorway was raised, and the page 
ushered in Frank Pinkley, Francis Aveling, and Arthur 
Newland Kemp. 

Mrs. Gray hurried forward to greet them, and Dick 
also rose. He did not know Aveling and Kemp, but 
recognising Pinkley he started back, grew very red in the 
face, and looking hard at Nellie asked : 

* How long have you known this gentleman ? ' 

* Mercy on us ! ' cried Nellie in sweet surprise, * are you 
two gentlemen acquainted ? ' 

^ Wft are,' said Dick sententiously and grufHy. 

Frank took a step or two forward and held out his 
hand. ^ This is an unexpected pleasure,' he remarked. 

The proftred hand wai not taken, and, turning to his 
hostess, he added by way 6f explanati6n : 


* Mr. Stonor is a relative of mine. We represent two 
difierent branches of the family, and, unhappily, there have 
been family differences. But as far as I am concerned I 
am willing to let bygones be bygones. I don't know 
exactly why we should be enemies.' 

^Well said, well said,' exclaimed Nellie, clapping her 
little palms together. ^ Now, then, shake hands, both of 
you,' and she stamped her elegantly slippered foot to give 
emphasis to her command. 

Once more Pinkley stretched forth his hand, but Stonor 
still declined to take it. 

^ It's no use acting the fool,' he replied grumpily. ^ I'm 
not going to quarrel with Mr. Pinkley, but at the same 
time I don't feel sufficiently friendly towards him to shake 
hands. However, I presume we are not here to discuss 
our family affiiirs. Please let the subject drop, and as you 
are no doubt anxious. Mistress Gray, to entertain your 
guests, I will take my departure.' 

'You will do nothing of the kind,' said Nellie with 
great decisiveness, and giving him a push he sank down in 
a heap on the cushions of the divan. 

* There,' she added, with a tinkling little laugh, ' I'm 
mistress here, and you'll do as I tell you.' 

Then she ordered the page to put wine and glasses on 
the table, and very soon the gentlemen were pledging the 
lady in bumpers, and Stonor, who had been so surly but a 
short time before, grew very lively, and hummed snatches 
of music from the last opera. 

Nellie had thrown the spell of her witchery over him, 
and the utter recklessness of his nature came out. He even 
displayed a benevolent disposition towards his kinsman, and 
declared that Nellie was the only woman in all the world 
that was worth a groat ; whereupon Nellie chided him with 
being a base deceiver and a wily flatterer, and, vowing that 
things were ' a bit slow,' she suggested that they should try 
their luck at cards by way of enlivening the proceedings. 

At first Dick prot^ted ; said that he did not intend to 
play; repeated his statement that he had betn 'hard hit' 


the previous night, and that he did not feel in form. But 
gentle Nellie Gray had soon overcome his objections, and 
die party retired to the card-room, the other side of the 
maroon curtain. 

Here was a long green baize table overhung by a magni- 
ficent cut glass chandelier, while a number of sporting 
etchings adorned the walls. The four men sat down to 
whist, Nellie standing out. The game was guinea points. 
Dick was a good whist player, and he had Aveling for a 
partner, who was also good. But the other side were good 
also, so they were evenly balanced. 

The first rubber fell to Dick's side, the second to Frank's. 

Stonor repeatedly moistened his throat with Madeira, 
and it seemed to want moistening verv frequently indeed. 
Flushed and excited, he expressed his wiUingness to play five* 
guinea points, but Pinkley said that he did not care for that, 
but he was willing to throw dice with him for a guinea a 

At first Dick hesitated, until NeUie asked him if he was 
going to show the white feather, whereupon he declared he 
would throw dice until the following night if they liked. 
So the hostess produced the boxes and dice, and Stonor and 
Pinkley pitted themselves against each other. Stonor won 
the first five throws. Then the stakes were doubled. He 
won again. They were trebled, and Frank won, but the 
next throw fell in favour of Stonor. 

Then, while his attention was engaged for a moment or 
two by Nellie, his opponent adroitly substituted for the dice 
they had been using some that he slipped from his vest 
pocket. They were loaded. 

*You have had a run of good fortune, Dick,* he 
remarked. * I'll throw you this time for twenty guineas.' 

' Done.' 

The dice fell against Stonor, and he lost. 

^ Double or quits,' he cried excitedly. 

* I aeree.' 

Agam he lost. 

^ Double or quits again.' 


Frank agreed, and again he was the winner. 

Dick got still more excited. He gulped down a glass of 
wine. Again he went double or quits ; once more he lost. 
He called down a malediction on the dice, and said he would 
throw no more ; but Nellie rallied him, and banging his 
fist on the table he declared he would be hanged if he 
would be beaten, and once more he expressed his willingness 
to play for double or quits. This time he won. Frank 
looked gloomy. He wrote out a promissory note for the 
amount, pajrable on demand, and rose to retire. 

* Here, don't go,' cried Stonor sneeringly and in a very 
tipsy sort of voice. 

Before Frank could make reply, even had he intended to 
do so, Francis Aveling spoke. 

^ I am willing to throw dice with you for any amount, 
Mr. Richard Stonor.' 

* You — ^and who are you, pray i ' 

Dick was pretty far gone in his cups. His eyes were 
bleared, his face very red, his voice thick and husky. 

^ A gentleman, and your equal,' Aveling answered tartly. 

^ Well, I don't know you,' muttered Dick down in his 

^ Look here,' chimed in Frank, ^ this gentleman is a 
friend of mine, but if you don't care to play with him I'll 
have a last throw with you for five thousand guineas. If I 
lose it will beggar me. Say, will you take on the risk ? ' 

* Yes,' growled Stonor. * I should like to beggar you, 
hang me if I shouldn't.' 

An angry light darted from Pinkley's eyes, though he 
said nothing, but putting the dice in the box handed it to 
his opponent. Stonor rattled the dice an unconscionable 
time, then tossed the cubes on the cloth. They came up 
a four, a six, and a two. 

Frank took them, and turned up three sixes. Stonor 
uttered an oath ; then crashing his fist down on the table, 
he vowed he was ready to tempt fortune again by doubling 
the stakes. The challenge was accepted. At his request 
Nellie filled him out more wine, which he drank with a 


feverish greed. Frank threw first, and turned up a six and 
two fives. 

*• Beat that if you can/ he cried contemptuously. 

Stonor tried to beat it, but £iiled. His total only came 
to a four and two twos. An expression of anguish swept 
over his hot, red face, but he said nothing. 

* I'm good for double or quits,' remarked Frank. 
Stonor breathed hard. He looked half-dazed, but made 

an effort to command himself, and with a nod of the head he 

He lost. 

^ You owe me thirty thousand guineas,' said Frank coolly. 
^ Mrs. Gray, give me a sheet of paper and ink, and pen, 

The writing materials were produced, and very reluc- 
tantly Stonor wrote out a promissory note and signed it. 

* I'll give you another chance if you like,' said Pinkley ; 
* I'll stake this promissory note against the Water Meadow 

The Water Meadow Farm was a valuable property, 
situated in Cumberland. It consisted of about one hundred 
and fifty acres of land, much of it splendidly timbered. 
Dick Stonor was too much under the influence of the wine 
to be responsible for his actions ; but again he assented, and 
again he lost. He looked fearful now. The veins in his 
temples stood out like cords ; his eyes were bloodshot, his 
lips blue ; all the colour had gone from his face, and his 
cheeks were ashen. 

*I believe you've cheated me. I'll not pay this,' he 

Frank sprang to his feet, and drawing a pistol from his 
pocket, he levelled it point blank at his opponent. 

*JBy Heaven, if you don't, I'll blow your brains out,' he 
said sternly. 

The other two men joined in, and told Stonor he was 

bound to pay his gambling debts unless he wished to be 

disgraced ; and pretty Nellie reminded him that gentlemen 

who lost money in her house were bound to pay if they 



desired to cross her threshold again. Thus menaced on all 
sideS| the wretched man mumbled that he would have 
another chance, he would throw a final throw for double 
the amount or quits. Pinkley agreed, and again he won. 

Stonor looked imbecile, but Aveling thrust a pen into 
his hand, and the miserable wretch scrawled an acknow- 
ledgment of his indebtedness, and a promise to pay on 
demand, also an acknowledgment that Pinkley had a claim 
on the Water Meadow Farm. Then he seized a decanter 
half full of wine, and putting it to his swollen and cracked 
lips he drained it, and a few minutes afterwards rolled off his 
chair and fell prone on the flbor. Nellie, who had been out 
of the room, returned, followed by another man. This man 
was Patrick MuUan, who lifted the insensible Stonor as if 
he had been a little child, and carried him downstairs. The 
hour was very late. All the servants had been sent to bed. 
Nellie herself opened the hall door, and Mullan bore his 
burden forth into the darkness of the night. Ten minutes 
later Frank Pinkley and his companions stole forth, and 
Nellie Gray, having turned the lights out, went up to her 

Chapter V 


The morning of the third of February broke wild and 
tempestuous. It had been a bad night. A roaring gale 
laden with sleet had howled over London, doing tremendous 
damage. When the first gleams of the new-born day were 
asserting themselves, a drowsy, shivering night-watchman, 
carrying a staff and horn lanthorn, observed a man huddled 
up on the pavement by the railings of a church in the 
neighbourhood of Bloomsbury. 

The watchman tried to arouse the man, but couldn't, 
for he was dead. An alarm was raised, a|id the body 
conveyed to the nearest watch-house, where it was revealed 


that the man had been strangled to death. His throat was 
not only lacerated, but was black and blue, and finger marks 
were very visible. His throat had been squeezed by 
powerful hands. 

Garrotting was a common enough street outrage in 
those days. The roughs and rascals who prowled the 
streets at midnight found the throat grip a very effectual 
means of preventing a victim from crying out or offering 

On the dead man's person nothing whatever was found 
to lead to his identity. Everything of any value had been 
taken away. It was clearly a case of robbery and brutal 
murder ; so the machinery of the law was set in motion, and 
the Bow Street runners received orders to leave no stone 
unturned in their endeavour to track the criminal or 
criminals to earth. 

About a week later a well-known posting inn, situated 
one hundred and fifty miles from London, on the Great 
North Road, was also the scene of a curious occurrence. 
The previous night four men had arrived by the mail coach 
journeying north. They were well acquainted with each 
other, apparently intimate friends. One appeared to be ill, 
and decided to remain at the inn, and a companion agreed 
to stop with him. The other two proceeded on their 

The sick traveller and his companion, having dined and 
consumed a bottle of wine, retired to rest about ten o'clock. 
They occupied rooms adjoining each other and communi- 
cating by an inner door. In the middle of the night the 
people of the inn were alarmed by the violent ringing of 
the bell of the sick man's room, and on making their way 
thither they found the invalid in strong convulsions, and his 
friend, agitated and distressed, doing what he could to relieve 
him. As the case seemed very serious a stable hand was 
roused up and ordered to ride at full speed to the nearest 
doctor and bring him back. 

The nearest doctor lived quite four miles away. When 
he arrived at th^ inn he found that his servicer coi^ld be 9f 


no avail, as the sufferer was dead. His friend stated that 
he and the deceased both belonged to Edinburgh. His 
own name was MacBride, and that of his dead friend 
Richard Ogilvie. They were in business as grain mer- 
chants at Leith, and had been to London in connection with 
their affairs. While in London, Ogilvie had drunk heavily, 
and was ill before he left. 

The doctor, who was a pompous, ignorant man, certified 
that the deceased had come to his death by an attack of 
apoplexy, following a drinking bout. MacBride presented the 
doctor with the very handsome fee of ten guineas. At first 
Mac talked of taking his friend's body back to Edinburgh ; 
but finding that there would be many difficulties in the way of 
carrying out that intention, to say nothing of the great 
expense, he reluctantly resolved to bury him in the parish 
churchyard, and before the week was out Ogilvie was laid 
to rest in the shadow of the grey old church, and the 
sorrowing Mac continued his journey northward alone, 
bearing his late friend's effects with him. 

Somewhere about the time that Ogilvie was being buried 
in the quiet country churchyard, not far from the inn 
where he died, Mr. Pinkley, senior, and Mr. Pinkley, junior, 
were closeted together in their sanctum at the office in 
Ribchester. Pinkley, senior, looked grave ; Pinkley, junior, 
was flippant and irritable. 

* I tell you candidly,* said the old man in continuation 
of the conversation they had been carrying on, * I don't 
like the aiiair at all. You say that you won all this money 
and the Water Meadow Farm estate from Stonor by fair 
gambling. But what do you think people will say of us 
when they know how we have become possessed of this 
wealth ? ' 

* Say ! I don't care what they say. Let the gossips 
chatter until their tongues swell. I told you I was going 
to deprive Stonor of his riches, and I've kept my word.* 

* But supposing Stonor repudiates his debts ? ' 

* He won't ; he can't ; he shan't. I would kill him 


Mr. Pinkley looked at his son hard and angrily. It is 
true he was a worldly man, and though he was nearing the 
end of his earthly pilgrimage he still craved for wealth, be- 
cause he could not bear the idea of depriving himself in his 
old age of any of the good things he had been used to all 
his life. Poverty aflfrighted him, and the bare thought of 
him and his devoted sister wanting even common necessaries 
gave him the cold shudders. But with all his faults and 
all his worldliness Peter Pinkley had at least been honest. 
He had robbed no one, he had cheated no one. 

* If you are going to talk like that, Frank,* said the old 
man sternly, * you had better take yourself off and let me 
see you no more. Let us, at least, keep ourselves free from 

* I can take myself off, father, if that's what you want,* 
retorted the son with brutal flippancy ; * but I must say a 
word or two before I go. I bear the Stonors no love, and 
I fail to see why you should, and, most of all, I hate Dick 
Stonor. I believe he was mainly instrumental in persuading 
Gertrude not to marry me. Anyway, I hate him. We 
gambled together in a gaming house in London, and if he 
had won, do you suppose he would have spared me ? Not 
a bit of it. He would have had his pound of flesh, and I'm 
going to have mine, so that's all about it. I shouldn't care 
a brass farthing if I ruined Dick Stonor body and soul.* 

Frank, having thus given vent to his feelings, and 
expressed his sentiments, such as they were, flung himself 
out of the room, and neither by word nor gesture did the 
old man seek to stay him. A wilful and wayward son who 
allows his passion to get the better of his judgment should 
be let alone for a time, at least until he has had opportunity 
to reflect. 

So thought Mr. Peter Pinkley, and though he was 
stricken with a great sorrow, he preserved a dignified silence ; 
but that evening when he reached his home he laid the 
whole matter before his sister. It was not often he took her 
into his confidence to such an extent, but he had now begun 
to realise that he wa$ a lonely old man ; that the shadows 


were gathering about him, and at such a time the love, 
advice, consolation, and sympathy of a devoted woman were 
not to be priced by gold. 

Of course, Miss Pinkley was terribly shocked, and she 
expressed a fear that Frank was making a whip of scorpions 
for his own back. She said that she would admonish him 
when he came home, and use whatever influence she 
possessed to dissuade him from pursuing a course which she 
was sure would end in disaster and ruin. 

Peter could neither say yea nor nay to this. He was 
too conscious of his own impotence, and so was reduced to 

Frank Pinkley did not return home that night. But 
this caused no actual uneasiness, as it was not an unusual 
thing for him to remain away for nights at a time. He had 
reached an age when he was no longer amenable to control, 
and was too self-reliant and too conceited to tolerate advice. 
That evening when he left the office he hired a nag in 
Ribchester, and rode at a smart pace to a neighbouring town 
some twelve miles away. He drew rein in the yard of * The 
Posthorn,' an inn of some repute. He was informed by the 
landlord, who knew him very well, that he was expected in 
room number twelve. To that room he made his way and 
found Francis Aveling and Arthur Kemp. They had 
been anxiously looking for his coming. They were pulling 
at long pipes, and on the table were glasses and a bottle that 
had contained claret. 

* We began to think you were not going to turn up,' 
said Aveling as he glanced at a clock that ticked solemnly 
against the wall in a recess. 

^ I'm a man of my word. I've come as soon as I could. 
But any news ? ' 

* None.' 

* Well, what about that bottle ? Is it empty ? ' 

* Quite.' 

Thereupon the bell-pull was tugged, and when the 
waiter appeared he was instructed to procure another bottle 
of the best claret the house contained. 


Both Aveling and Kemp looked as if they had been 
dissipating pretty freely^ but Kemp, in addition, appeared to 
be very ill. His eyes were sunken and shaded by dark rims. 
His cheeks were bloodless and of an ashen grey, and his ex- 
pression was that of a man who was gazing upon some 
horrible sight. He started when the door opened and the 
waiter brought in the wine ; he started when one of his 
companions coughed, and he almost jumped off his seat when 
the clock with a wheeze and a whir began to hoarsely 
strike the hour of nine. It was obvious that his nerves were 
strung to a high pitch of tension, and that he was suffering 

Before the waiter left the room he told him to bring 
some brandy, and when it was brought he poured a quantity 
into a tumbler, and having filled it up with claret drank deeply 
of the potent and deadly draught, remarking apologetically 
that he wanted something to steady himself with. Then 
they fell to talking about their financial aflairs and of the 
division of the spoil. It was through Aveling that Pinkley 
obtained an introduction to Mistress Nellie Gray. Aveling 
had been in the habit of frequenting the lady's house. He 
was aware also that Stonor was one of her most favoured 
visitors, but only so long as she could squeeze money out of 
him. Her greed furnished Aveling with a means of secur- 
ing her services in the deep-laid conspiracy to fleece Dick 
Stonor of his belongings. Without her aid the plot could 
hardly have been carried out. Heartless as she was she 
stuck at nothing that was calculated to fill her coffers. 
Kemp had prepared the loaded dice, and furnished informa- 
tion of Stonor's movements. He was enabled to do this, as 
he was very intimately acquainted with a young man who 
acted as Stonor's valet, and this young man, being very pliable 
and very foolish, was as wax in Kemp's hands. 

Necessarily these two men were anxious to obtain their 
share of the proceeds of their infamy, each saying that he 
intended to go to some other country as soon as possible ; 
but Pinkley explained that he had not yet presented the 
promissory notes,^ but he had raised fifty pounds from 


another source, and had brought that amount in crisp bank 
notes, which he divided between his companions. Thejr ac- 
cepted the money with anjrthing but gratitude, though they 
expressed their willingness to wait yet a little longer for the 
final settlement, subject to Pinkley giving them there and then 
a written acknowledgment of his indebtedness to them. 
Somewhat reluctantly he did this, and the business so far 
being settled, they continued smoking and drinking until a 
late hour, when they retired to their respective rooms ; 
Kemp having to be helped upstairs by the boots, for his 
head was muddled with drink, and his legs seemed too weak 
to bear the weight of his body. 

Pinkley returned to Ribchester the following day, and 
spent the evening at his father's house, and the occasion 
was thus afforded Miss Pinkley to act the part of admonisher. 
But her nephew was only a little less tolerant of her 
attempts to convert him than he was of his father. He had 
committed himself too deeply to recede, even had he been 
inclined to do so ; but he soon began to realise that the way 
of the transgressor is hard, for when he presented the promis- 
sory notes at Stonor's bank for payment he was informed that, 
Mr. Stonor being still absent, they could not be taken up 
until his return. This was a very unpleasant check to 
Pinkley. He saw that he had overreached himself, for he 
had not anticipated any difficulty in the way of getting the 
notes turned into cash, notwithstanding Stonor s absence, 
but herein he reckoned without his host. Three, four weeks 
passed and Stonor had not returned. His friends began to 
get a little uneasy, for he had not even written ; and when 
another week had gone it was deemed advisable to com- 
municate with a gentleman whom Stonor always visited when 
in the metropolis. This gentleman in turn, growing suspicious, 
spoke to his attorney, and the attorney on his part deemed 
it prudent to give some information of the missing gentleman 
to Bow Street. The attorney's description of Stonor was 
found to tally with the description of the murdered man who 
had been found by the watchman at the church railings in 
Bloomsbury. This was a revelation, and forthwith went an 


intimation to the friends in the North that there was reason to 
fear Mr. Richard Stonor had been a victim of foul play. 

It chanced that at this time there was a very shrewd 
and very sharp-eyed detective attached to Bow Street. He was 
exceedingly well known, and his reputation had spread far 
beyond the metropolis. He had been the means of hunting 
down a good many notorious criminals, and had cleverly 
broughtto booksomeof the most desperate highwaymen of the 
day. His name was Bob Sturgess, and he was considered a 
very valuable addition to the forces of law and order. 

Bob had examined the body of the man found against 
the church railings in Bloomsbury, and saw what, of course, 
was very apparent, that the murdered man had occupied a 
good position. The softness and whiteness of his hands 
and the fashionable cut of his clothes proclaimed that fact. It 
has already been stated that the pockets of the dead man 
had been rifled and everything carried away, everything with 
one exception — z card, a playing card. It was the ace of 
spades. It was in the left-hand pocket of the breeches. 
How it came to be there was a mystery. The card happened 
to be of a peculiar make that was only produced in Paris, 
and was very rarely seen in London. 

Bob took charge of that card, thinking that some day it 
might prove useful. He reasoned that the gentleman must 
have been in a gaming house, and having been fleeced of 
everything was carried out in a state of intoxication 
probably, and placed where he was found. Whoever 
carried him did not carry him very fer. At least that was 
a reasonable inference, and it served as a guide to Bob. 
He knew the neighbourhood, knew most of the houses, and 
was acquainted with Nellie Gray's place. Her house was 
one of five, each within a quarter of a mile of where the 
body was found. All these houses were gaming houses, 
and Bob Sturgess set his wits to work to try and discover if 
Stonor had been in one of these five houses on the night of 
his death, and if so, which one. 

The task was a delicate and difficult one, and though 
Bob persevered he could ^et no sign, and at last determined 


on a very bold move. He swore ^ an information ' that he 
had reason to suspect Stonor was murdered in one of the 
five houses, and he applied for and obtained a warrant to 
search them. He proceeded to carry out the search with 
caution and secrecy, and, strangely enough, by chance and 
not from design, Nellie Gray's house was left to the last. 
The other four had yielded no results, and Bob had some- 
what lost heart when he commenced business at Nellie's. 
Needless to say, she was highly indignant, and protested 
vigorously against what she termed ^ this indecent intrusion ' 
on her privacy. 

Of course that did not influence Bob, who proceeded 
with his work in a very systematic manner, and directed 
special attention, as he had done in the previous cases, to 
inspecting the packs of cards that had been thrown on one 
side when done with. It seemed a very slender chance, 
indeed, but Fate was playing her own game. In the large 
drawer of a spare card table were several disused packs of cards. 
Three or four of these were of French make, and one lacked 
the ace of spades. Bob kept his discovery to himself; and 
his next step was to apply for a warrant for the arrest of 
Nellie Gray and all her household on suspicion of having 
been accessory to the murder. The arrest was as a thunder- 
bolt to Nell, but she had to yield to the force of law. 
The system pursued in those days was of a far more inquisi- 
torial nature than is permitted now, and the result was 
some of the servants were induced to confess that Stonor 
was well known at the house, and had been there on the 
nieht of his death, but they were firm in declaring that they 
did not know how he left nor when he left, as they were all 
in bed before the party broke up. 

Bob now regarded it as one great seminal principle of 
his inquiry to learn who visited Nellie's house on the night 
of the crime. Nell herself was mum. Neither threats nor 
punishment could induce her to disclose anything. The 
servants were severally examined on the point, and as they 
had not the same inducement for concealment as the 
mistress, a fairly accurate description of Pinkley and his 


companions was forthcoming, including that of Patrick 
Mullan, who, it appeared, was confined to the kitchen as ^ an 
inferior person,' and entertained bv the servants, and one 
of them mentioned that, incidentally, he had stated that he 
came from Westmoreland. 

In the meantime Nellie Gray applied to her influential 
friends for assistance, and amongst them was the young 
scion of a noble houser This young blade had become in- 
fatuated with the designing and wicked Nell, and the 
result was he offered bail for her to any amount. Other 
influence was also brought to bear, and Nell was released 
on bail, which was fixed at three thousand pounds, a large 
sum in those days. 

Following up his inquiry. Bob Sturgess learnt through 
Stonor's London friend that Frank Pinkley had presented 
promissory notes at Stonor's bank for large amounts. In 
consequence of this revelation Bob set off armed with 
warrants and accompanied by four officers, for the North, 
and had no difficulty in effecting Pinkley's, Avcling's, and 
Kemp's arrest. Both Aveling and Kemp were still residing 
at the inn, * The Posthorn,' whither Pinkley had gone to see 
them ; but Aveling was prostrated on a bed of sickness. 
He was reduced to a skeleton, and seemed to be in the last 
stage of a wasting and fatal disease. Notwithstanding this. 
Bob Sturgess felt compelled to remove him with the others 
to London. Bob was disappointed in not having been able 
to get any trace of Patrick MuUan. 

On a blustery March day Bob and his companions set 
off with their captives for the metropolis ; but before they 
had covered half the distance, it became evident that 
Kemp's hours were numbered, and Sturgess humanely 
ordered a halt at a post inn, and procured the services of a 
physician. But all the doctor could do was to announce 
that the invalid would not live through the night. On 
learning this Kemp became dreadfully excited, and begged 
that a clergyman might be sent for. To this gentleman, 
and in the presence of the officers of the law, the wretched 
man unburdened his conscience and divulged the whole 


plot. Pinklejr was the originator of it, and he had taken 
the others into his confidence in order that they might help 
him in his nefarious scheme of fleecing Stonor. 

Patrick Mullan, who hated Stonor, was used as a spy 
on his late employer's movements, and he it was who gave 
the information that Stonor had gone to London. The 
object in engaging Mullan to carry Stonor from Nellie 
Gray's house when he was in an insensible condition, and 
leave him in the street, was in the hope that he would die 
from exposure, and that it might be regarded as a case of 
natural death or suicide ; but Mullan had strict injunctions 
not to injure Stonor in any way. But the most dreadful 
part of Kemp's confession had yet to come. He, Mullan, 
and the others left London together, and Mullan became 
very disagreeable. He did not want to go back north, and 
demanded a large sum of money, which, of course, could 
not be paid until the promissory notes were cashed. One 
evening he got intoxicated, and began to blab some 
dangerous secrets, and it was decided by the other three 
that he should die, as the most effective means of keeping 
him quiet. Kemp was in the habit of taking a medicinal 
preparation of arsenic for his complaint. He carried a 
bottle of this stuff always with him, and swallowed a very 
minute dose of it twice a day. The doctor had warned 
him never to exceed the dose prescribed, as the effect 
would be fatal. A considerable quantity of this stuff was 
given to Mullan while he was intoxicated, and it made 
him very ill. He and Kemp remained behind at the post 
inn, and that night Kemp administered to him a second 
large dose of the medicine, which proved fatal. Kemp 
represented himself at the inn as MacBride, and his dead 
companion as Richard Ogilvie. 

Within half an hour of unburdening his conscience or 
this terrible crime Kemp was no more. Of course the 
supposition was that Mullan had murdered Stonor, and the 
others were arraigned for being accessories to the murder ; 
but the &ir Nellie Gray did not stand at the bar with the 
others. Availing herself of her liberty on bail, and no 



doubt with the connivance of her admirer, she stripped her 
house of everything valuable, realised all her securities, and 
bolted. There was some reason to believe she went to France. 
Aveling and Pinkley were convicted, and sentenced to trans- 
portation for life. 

The terrible aflFair so preyed upon poor Miss Pinkley 
that she went out of her mind, and had to be confined ; 
and Peter Pinkley only survived six months. 

As a remarkable sequel to this story, some years later, 

when the matter had long been forgotten by the public, a 

loose woman denounced a man who had robbed her and 

shamefully ill-treated her, as the murderer of Richard Stonor. 

According to her statement, this man, who had passed under 

many aliases, and had suffered imprisonment, but whose 

real name was Joseph Stagg, was prowling on the night of 

the crime, and came upon Stonor in a drunken sleep against 

the church railings. He commenced to rob him, when 

Stonor offered resistance, and the villain strangled him. 

When this statement came to be tested and investigated it 

was ultimately proved by a chain of circumstantial evidence 

to be correct ; and in a box at Stagg's residence some letters 

and papers belonging to Stonor were found. Stag^ was 

tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death, and just before 

being hanged he confessed that he had been justly convicted, 

and that he really murdered Stonor, not knowing, of course, 

who he was. He had no intention at first of killing him, 

and would not have done so if he had remained quiet. 

Patrick Mullan was thus exonerated from the charge of 

murder. Of course, after the incidents herein recorded the 

great cleavage between the two families was still further 

widened ; and to this day a Stonor hates a Pinkley, while a 

Pinkley would not, if he could help it, walk on the same 

side of the street as a Stonor. 




Chapter I 


'Chaffers, send Mr. Hargood here/ was the banker's 
order to the servant who noiselessly appeared in answer to 
the bell-summons. Chaffers bowed and retired, and, in a 
few minutes, the green baize door that gave entrance to the 
snug bank parlour swung silently on its hinges, and a young 
man entered. Mr. Millwater was a florid, round-faced, 
grey-haired man, with keen grey eyes and a fresh colour. 
His beginning had been very humble indeed. His father 
was a carrier for nearly fifty years on the great London 
road ; but, being ambitious, he had managed to give his 
only son Tom a smattering of education, and obtained a 
situation for him as ofEce lad in the employment of a firm 
of London auctioneers. Tom was plodding and shrewd, 
and, before he was twenty, he made his way back to his 
native village of Woldholm, where, profiting by his London 
experiences, he commenced business in a very small way 
as an auctioneer. Steady and persevering, he soon managed 
to place his business on a secure footing, and by the time he 
was thirty he was accounted one of the most successful men 
in the village. He now took unto himself a wife, the 
daughter of a prosperous fermer, and she brought him a 
small dowry. With his marriage, his ambition took higher 


flight, and abandoning his practice as an auctioneer, he took 
to banking, beginning humbly, but gradually rising, until 
now we find him bearing the reputation of being th« 
wealthiest man in all the country side ; while the influence 
of Millwater*s Bank, which had never been sullied during 
the thirty years of its existence, was for more than local. 
Mr. Millwater was now sixty years of age, and a widower. 
His wife had been dead several years, and she had left him 
with an only girl. Rose Millwater, in spite of her twenty- 
one years, was still very girlish in appearance, for she was 
fciir as a lily, with light auburn hair, and roguish soft brown 
eyes. She was petitiy plump, and pretty ; indeed, there were 
those who maintained that she was for and away the 
prettiest girl in Yorkshire. Of course she had admirers 
innumerable, but her recognised and accepted lover was 
Richard Thorn, who occupied a responsible position as 
clerk in Mr. Millwater's bank. Thorn's father had been a 
successful man of business, and had risen to the dignity of 
mayor of Woldholm, which position he occupied at the 
time of his death. He and Mr. Millwater had been most 
intimate friends, and when Thorn died his son Richard, 
who was a somewhat fast youth, and had spent a good deal 
of his time in London, came to Woldholm, and accepted a 
position in the bank, where he had been for five years. 
He had succeeded in making numerous enemies by his 
somewhat overbearing and domineering spirit, and a good 
many nasty things, whether true or not, were said about him ; 
but, in spite of this, he was a great favourite with the banker, 
who openly acknowledged him as his future son-in-law. 
The gossips said that this was due to the fact that he was 
the member of an old county family, whose motto was In 
memoriam majorum. It is more than probable that, in this 
matter, the gossips were quite right ; for Mr. Millwater's 
besetting sin was pride, and being ashamed of his own 
ancestry, he was anxious, no doubt, to become allied by 
marriage to a house with a pedigree. 

The engagement between Richard Thorn and Rose 
Millwater had existed for a year j but previous to that 


there had been a considerable deal of love-making of a 
surreptitious character between Rose and George Hargood. 
They had been acquainted almost from childhood. George's 
&ther was the proprietor and editor of a local paper of good 
position and considerable influence ; but he had died sud- 
denly one day of apoplexy, leaving a young widow and 
three children (a son and two daughters). The business 
of the paper was carried on by an uncle, who was made 
trustee of the property i but he shamefully abused his trust, 
and two years had ruined the business, and the paper 
stopped. George then entered Mr. Millwater's bank — that 
gentleman having known the lad's father intimately, and 
often been glad to avail himself of the influence which his 
journal had possessed. It came about one day, however, 
that young George, by the advice and urgent request of 
Rose, asked Mr. Millwater's sanction to his openly keeping 
company with Rose. The request, for a time, made the 
banker furious, and he asked the audacious young man how 
he dared to aspire so high, seeing that he was merely a 
humble clerk. Poor George was terribly crushed by this 
refusal, but he held his peace, for he was the sole support, 
or almost so, of his widowed mother, and he could not afibrd 
to quarrel with his patron. Mr. Millwater soon got over 
his temper, and, as if sorry for having displayed it, he pro- 
moted George a little and gave him a more confidential 
position ; but he emphatically told him that he must abandon 
all hope of Rose. As Rose took her father's view, George 
had no alternative but to comply ; but in a final letter he 
received from Rose, she gave expression to sentiments 
which left no doubt on his mind that she cherished very 
warm affection for him, but allowed this afiection to bie 
subservient to duty to her father. 

George, who had hitherto been a visitor to the banker's 
house, was now no longer permitted to go ; but he soon 
learned that a rival had supplanted him in the person of 
Richard Thorn, and it became an open secret in the village 
that Rose and Richard were^ affianced. Some of the 
wise acres shook their heads ominously at this, and exclaimed. 


^ Ah, it will never be a good match ; young Richard is far 
too wild to make a steady husband.' 

Whatever George Hargood's feelings were he managed 
to conceal them ; but he would scarcely have been human 
if he had not entertained for his more fortunate fellow-clerk 
a very decided feeling of dislike. George held a subordinate 
position under Thorn, whose despotic nature often manifested 
itself in a very unpleasant manner. Nevertheless, George 
bore with it all, for although his position was irksome, he 
hoped to better it ; and in spite of the banker's opposition to 
George's love-making, it was evident that he was much 
attached to him and reposed much trust in him. 

^ Sit down a minute, George,' said Mr. Millwater, as the 
clerk, in obedience to the summons, now stood before him. 
In a few minutes the banker ceased writing, and, looking at 
his massive gold repeater watch, said, ^ I'm going to give 
you a special and delicate mission to carry out. A written 
order for a thousand pounds was presented at the bank 
counter late yesterday afternoon, and the money was paid 
to the bearer. The order apparently was drawn by our old 
and respected client, Mr. Gregson, of Ashley Hall. There 
is the order ; read it.' 

This order was written on a sheet of notepaper bearing 
a motto and crest, and dated Ashley Hall. It was to this 

< December 33, 18 — . 

^ Please pay to bearer the sum of a thousand pounds, and 
charge to my account. I have unfortunately mislaid my 
cheque book for the moment, and want the money immedi- 
ately, as I start to-night, as usual, for the Continent. 

* Philip Grbgson.' 

When George had read this, the banker asked : 
^ You know Mr. Gregson's signature ? ' 
' Yes, sir.' 

* Do you believe his hand wrote that ? ' 
George looked at the writing attentively, and examined 
it from every possible point of view, then answered : 



' Well, sir, it looks wonderfully like his signature.' 

^ It does, and I am not sure that my suspicions would 
have been aroused if it had not been for the fiict that it is 
totally unlike Mr. Gregson to draw a cheque in this manner. 
During the many years that he has been my client he has 
never done such a thing before. I therefore compared the 
signature, and found certain minute discrepancies that are 
remarkable. I was induced by that discovery to drive over 
to Ashley Hall last night and question Mr. Gregson*s 
housekeeper as to whether she was of opinion that her 
master had sent for this large sum of money ; and she 
strongly inclines to the belief that he did not, or she would 
have heard something about it. Now what I want you to 
do is to go up to London to-night, and cross over to Paris 
without a moment's delay. Mr. Gregson has been in the 
habit for years of spending Christmas Day in Paris with 
his daughter, who is at school there, and he alwajrs stajrs at 
the Grand Hotel. You will take this paper with you, and 
ask him whether he drew the order.' 

George's countenance fell a little, for, while feeling 
honoured that he was entrusted with so important a duty, 
he had hoped to spend Christmas with his mother and sisters, 
never before having been absent from them on that day in 
the whole course of his life. He, however, raised no 
objection. It was to his interest to obey his orders. But 
he remarked : 

^ It is nearly four o'clock now, sir, and I shall hardly be 
able to catch the up train to London.' 

*If you wait for the train from here to York you 
won't, as it does not arrive until an hour and a half after 
the departure of the London train. But you have plenty 
of time to drive the distance. You will therefore go to 
my house and tell Blake, the coachman, to send the lad 
Billy with you in the (log-cart. You had better have the 
mare Bess ; she has done no work for three or four days, 
and will cover the twenty miles under two hours. That 
will give you ample time.' 

The banker put Mr. Gregson's order in ^n envelope 


and sealed it with the bank seal, and gave it to George, who, 
as he was about to depart, asked : 

* Who paid the money, sir ? * 

* Mr. Thorn,' was the answer. 

George made no further remark, but took his leave, and 
about a quarter of an hour later Mr. Millwater drew his 
heavy arm-chair before the blazing fire, and pondered for a 
time, till he knew that the bank had closed and the 
employes were taking their departure. Then he sent for 
Richard Thorn. Thorn was rather a conspicuous young 
man. He was tall and muscular, with long, delicate white 
hands and a very decidedly handsome face. He was &ir, 
the colour of his hair approximating almost to flaxen. His 
eyes were a pronounced blue, and his complexion clear as a 
woman's. He wore a heavy moustache, and there seemed, to 
be a certain patrician languor in all his movements. He 
displayed a profusion of jewellery, and his general style and 
get-up suggested that he was a rather fast and somewhat silly 
young man. 

^ I am by no means satisfied, Thorn, about that order of 
Mr. Gregson's,' said the banker. ^ It is so unlike him to 
send in such a manner. It is almost a pity that you didn't 
make some inquiries of the man who presented it.' 

* Well, we were very busy at the time, as it was market 
day, and near our closing hour ; and as I had no reason to 
doubt the genuineness of the document, I, of course, paid 
the money.' 

^ Umph ! well, perhaps after all it's right ; but still I 
have my doubts, and I am sending Hargood up by the mail 
train to London, so that he may go on to Paris to-morrow 
and see Mr. Gregson.' 

^ But he cannot catch the mail train,' exclaimed Thorn 
quickly, glancing at the clock. 

* No, not if he waits for the local train from here. But 
I have told him to drive to York. Young Billy will run 
kim over with Bess in a couple of hours ; that will give 
him ample time.' 

*0h, yes, of course,' answered Thorn, in rather an 


absent sort of way, and playing nervously with his watch 
diain. Then he laughed and added : ^ Well, I don't envy 
him the drive. It's going to be a bad night, and I would 
rather that he crossed the wold than I did.' 

^ Ah, well, we cannot all lead feather-bed lives,' said the 
banker sententiously, as he rose and stood with his back to 
the fire. 

* Have you anything further to say, sir ? ' Thorn 
asked. ^I have a quarter of an hour's work yet to do 
before I can leave.' 

* No, nothing. We shall see you up in good time to- 
morrow, I suppose ? ' 


^ You had better drop in this evening as well, and see 
the tree lighted up.' 

* If at all possible, I will do so,' Thorn returned ; * but 
I have two or three engagements, and may be detained ; 
though I will make an enort to be with you. At any rate 
you'll see me to-morrow.' 

Thorn returned to his books. The bank was already 
closed, but, being Christmas Eve, he had a little extra work 
to do ; for as Christmas Day fell on a Thursday, the bank 
was not to be opened again until Monday, so that there 
were a good many things to square up. 

A few minutes later Mr. Miliwater, enveloped in a 
heavily-furred coat, passed through the counting-house, 
nodding good-night to his employes who still remained, and 
taking his seat in his luxurious carriage he drove to his 
home through a blinding snow-storm. 

Chapter II 


WoLDHOLM was a quaint little town, with a population of 
nearly five thousand inhabitants. It was situated in a bleak 
and exposed position on the edge of one of the great wolds. 


It had recently been connected, by a local line, with the 
nuin line of railway running from the North to London, the 
nearest main station being York, which was twenty miles 
away. A train left Woldholm every afternoon, timed to 
catch the up London train, but when Mr. Millwater made 
up his mind to send George Hargood to Paris this train 
had already gone, so that there was no alternative but to 
drive the distance, and, as Mr. Thorn had observed, it was a 
drive by no means to be envied on a bitter winter night, 
with snow driving in blinding sheets across the open wolds. 
But duty was duty with Hargood. Much as he would 
have liked to have spent Christmas Eve and Day with those 
who were dear to him, he felt that he must practise self- 
denial, however keen might be the disappointment. 

The day had been one of the sullen, heavy leaden days 
so peculiar to the English climate at this time of year. 
There had been occasional falls of snow, with a piercmgly 
cold wind. Towards night the wind rose almost to a gale, 
and the snow settled down into a continuous fall. It was, in 
truth, a terrible night ; such a night, to use an expressive 
phrase, that one would not wish to turn a doe out into it. 
And yet, in accordance with a strong sense of duty, George 
Hargood prepared to face the elements during that twenty 
miles' drive to York. It would, perhaps, have been difEcuit 
to have found a worse road in all England to traverse during 
a snow-storm, for the greater part of it lay over the wolds, 
and at night time it was lonely, desolate, and weird. 

Mrs. Hargood and her daughters were a little anxious 
about George ; but though the disappointment of not 
having him with them on Christmas Day was very great, 
they said nothing that was calculated to give him uneasiness 
or in any way deter him from doing his duty to his employer. 
George, himself, knew that there was a certain amount of 
peril in the journey during a dark night, and more particu- 
larly during a snow-storm, for lives had often been lost. 
But both the mare and the boy were quite used to the road, 
so that the danger was reduced to a minimum. The worst 
bit of the route was a section of nearly two miles, com- 


mencin^ three miles from the town. It was krlown as 
' Dead Man's Moor/ and not only did it bear an evil 
reputation on account of crimes that had been committed 
there, but it was about as treacherous as could well be 
imagined. This arose from the fiact that it was full of great 
holes, owing to the peat having been dug up in parts ; and 
there were hillocks and deep hollows that made driving a 
ticklish thing. Billy, the stable-help, however, had driven 
over the road often, and the marchess knew every inch of 
it, so that they might be trusted to perform the journey in 

The Mr. Gregson whose signature the banker believed 
had been forged was an eccentric and wealthy gentleman 
who lived at Ashley Hall, near Woldholm. He was a 
widower, with an only daughter, who was being educated 
in Paris, and for several years he had been in the habit of 
leaving England on the twenty-third of December, in order 
that he might spend Christmas Day with her. He had 
long been a profitable client of Mr. Millwater, and it was 
no unusual thing for him to draw cheques for large amounts ; 
but it was very unusual for him to write a cheque on a sheet 
of notepaper. It was this fact that had attracted the 
banker's attention, and comparison of the signature had led 
him to think the order was a forgery. Of course, without 
knowing for certain whether this really was so, he could 
take no definite action, and therefore it occurred to him 
that the best thing to do was to send a special messenger to 
the client, who generally remained abroad several weeks. 
Mr. Millwater had no one else in his employ whom he 
would have cared to have sent on such a mission, excepting 
it was Richard Thorn ; but Thorn was under an engage- 
ment to spend the day at the banker's house, where there 
was always much feasting and junketing on Christmas Day. 
Hargood was aware of this latter fact, and it made him feel 
a little envious and dull, as he set out on his journey. His 
thoughts naturally turned to Rose, who had been, and still 
was, so dear to him. He knew that she had loved him, 
even if she did not do so now, and that that love might have 


found consummation in marriage had it not been for his 
rival, Richard Thorn. No wonder that he felt bitter 
against Thorn, who had not only supplanted him in the 
affections of Rose, but did all he could to render his position 
in the bank irksome, in order, as George believed, to drive 
him out. Hargood had borne all this silently, knowing 
that it was useless to complain to Mr. Millwater, who was, 
so to speak, wrapped up in Richard, and would pay no 
attention to anything tha^ was said against him. 

As the friendly lights of the town faded behind Hargood, 
he felt very sad and depressed. In imagination he pictured 
the luxuriously furnished home of the banker, with its 
brilliant lights, and merry gathering of happy people ; and 
conspicuous amongst them Richard Thorn, talking love to 
Rose. As he thought of this, he considered it especially 
hard that he should be compelled to undertake this lonely 
and trying journey on Christmas Eve. After a time, how- 
ever, he came to regard it as an errand that might turn out 
to his advantage and profit, and so, consoling himself with 
this reflection, he buried his face in the collar of his great 
coat, and swathed himself in his wraps. 

It was, in truth, an awful night. The air was thick 
with driving snow, and the wind was piercing. Billy, who 
was like a white statue on the driving seat, tooled the mare 
with consummate skill ; but occasionally the furious gusts 
of wind caused her to shy and come to a dead stand, so that 
care and patience were necessary in driving her. But Billy, 
who was a courageous youth of eighteen, seemed to enjoy 
the situation, and now and again his exuberance of spirits 
found vent in whistling and snatches of songs. The pace 
was necessarily slow, and Hargood began to have serious 
doubts whether, in the face of such a storm, he could reach 
York in time to catch the train. Not only wa§ the road 
very heavy with the snow, but in parts it was entirely 
obliterated, rendering it imperative that the utmost caution 
should be exercised to prevent accident ; for if the proper 
track had not been kept, a spill in some of the deep depres- 
sions of the wold would have been certain. George came 


to the conclusion that it was the utmost folly to have com- 
menced such a journey during so terrible a storm. Even 
Billy got a little anxious, and frequently jumped down in 
order that he might lead the horse. The lamps of the dog- 
cart were light^ but the wet, blurred glass prevented 
much Ught from escaping i and owing to the air being 
thick with swirling snow it was almost impossible to dis- 
tinguish anything, more particularly as the steam from 
the panting horse encircled them in a dense cloud of vapour. 

^ I fear as how we winnat get to York in time, Measter 
Hargood,' Billy observed, as he scrambled once more to his 
seat, after having got his horse through an unusually deep 
drift. ^ If we were across Dead Man s Moor, tVorst part 
would be passed, and we could go ahead then. But I 
shouldna wonder if we get stuck there.' 

*We must try and do it, Billy,' Hargood replied 

^ Oh, aye, we'll try, of course,' answered Billy, with the 
spirit of a true Briton, as he coaxed the mare to quicken its 

^ How far is it now to Dead Man's Moor i ' George 

^ Nigh on to half a mile, I reckon, judging by the 
distance we've come.' 

The fierce wind made conversation by no means easy, 
and so nothing more was said ; but Billy continued to urge 
Bess with all the stable cajolery at his command, and that 
was no small stock. At length the notorious moor was 
reached, and here the storm seemed to concentrate all its 
fury, and the wind swept over the wild and desolate 
moorland with extraordinary force. Billy descended from 
his seat, and cautiously led the horse by the bridle ; but they 
had not proceeded very far, when, with startling suddenness, 
the glare of a bull's-eye lantern was flashed upon them, and 
the frightened mare plunged on one side and overturned 
the cart. Hargood was shot out into the snow, and being 
swathed in wraps was powerless. But no sooner had he 
fallen than a man sprang upon him and dealt him such a 


heavy blow with a stick, over the head, that he was com- 
pletely stunned, and the snow was reddened with his blood. 
While this was occurring, a second man had seized Billy, 
and throwing a sack over his head, twisted a cord about it 
and round his arms, thus rendering him powerless. The 
first man, having silenced his victim, tore off the wraps and 
proceeded to rifle his pockets, searching the prostrate man's 
purse and papers ; but though the purse contained a consider- 
able sum of money, he did not touch a halfpenny, but, 
muttering an oath between clenched teeth, he thrust the 
purse back into George's pocket. At last, from an inner 
breast pocket, he produced a pocket book. This he ex- 
amined by aid of the lantern, and found the envelope 
containing the cheque for one thousand pounds, purporting 
to have been drawn by Mr. Gregson. With a sort of 
chuckle of triumph he seized this, replaced the pocket book 
in the still insensible man's pocket, snatched up the lantern, 
and he and his companion disappeared, as if by magic, in the 
darkness. All this was enacted in the space of a few 
minutes ; and so sudden had the attack been that the 
victims could not offer the slightest resistance. 

Finding himself freed from the powerful grip of his 
assailant, Billy struggled to get his hands out of the coils of 
rope, and at last succeeded in doing this. Then, by dint of 
great exertion, he got his head clear of the sack, and rose to 
his feet uninjured. He immediately turned his attention to 
Hargood, who was still insensible. The mare was standing 
quietly a few yards away, attached by one shaft to the over- 
turned cart — the other shaft being broken, as also one of 
the lamps, while the other lamp had gone out. But Billy 
was provided with matches, and he succeeded in getting a 
light ; and, examining his companion, he was alarmed to see 
that he was as pale as death and bleeding from a wound in 
the head. To this wound Billy had the good sense to apply 
snow, which stopped the flow of blood, and also brought 
George to consciousness again, though it was some 
minutes before he was able to realise his situation. His 
first thoughts, naturally, were that he had been attacked by 


footpads for the sake of plunder, but he soon discovered that 
his purse, with its contents, was intact, and he was 
consequently puzzled to account for the assault. 

There was not much time, however, for reflection, for 
the snow and the bitter cold made it dangerous to remain 
inactive. They had no difficulty in righting the overturned 
dog-cart, and by means of some string and their hand- 
kerchief Billy tied the broken shaft together, and he then 
suggested that as it now would be impossible to get to York 
in time for the train, they had better turn back. George 
was reluctant to do this, but he soon saw that to persevere 
in the face of such difficulties was useless, and so he decided 
to return, especially as he felt ill and much shaken, and was 
suffering considerable pain from the wound in his head. 

As they drove slowly back towards the town, he and 
Billy discussed the reason that the attack had been made 
upon them, and who their assailants were. There were two 
of them, that was certain ; but neither had uttered a word, 
and, as their faces had not been seen, identification seemed 
almost impossible. Once more George examined his purse, 
but not a shilling was missing. Then suddenly it flashed across 
his mind that some of his papers had been taken away, and 
on looking through his pocket book he discovered that the 
cheque had gone. Here, then, was the key to the mystery. 
The thieves had purposely waylaid him in order to get the 
forged cheque into their possession ; and that it was forged 
seemed now to be made manifest, otherwise, why were the 
robbers so anxious to possess it ? The discovery made 
Hargood exceedingly anxious to reach the town and give 
information to the police, in order that steps might at once 
be taken to trace the scoundrels. But everything was 
unfavourable to expedition. The storm seemed to rage 
with increased fury, and the snow was so deep that the 
progress was painfully slow. But, to add to the difficulties, 
the broken shaft kept parting, and Billy was at his wits' end 
until he decided to cut part of the reins and make a strap 
for the damaged shaft, and then lead the horse the whole 
way by the bridle. It was a tedious and painful mode of 


proceeding, but there was nothing else for it, and it took 
them fully an hour and a half to reach the town. 

Immediately on arrival, Hargood proceeded to the police 
station and gave information of the robbery ; but the 
inspector seemed to think that as the thieves had laid their 
plans with such deliberation, they would be sure to get clear 
off, especially as neither George nor Billy could give the 
slightest description of their assailants. 

^ Maybe that will come in useful,' said Billy, as he 
handed to the inspector a morsel of a printed neck handker- 
chief, which he had torn from the neck of the man who had 
assailed him. 

^ It isn't much,' said the inspector, ^ but it may be of 

As there was nothing more to be done, George, whose 
head was becoming more painful, went to his home, and 
Billy returned to his master's house. 

Chapter III 


There was a merry and jovial party at Mr. Millwater's, 
and all the household, including the servants, had assembled 
in the great dining-room, during the distribution of the 
articles from the Christmas tree ; the distribution having 
been entrusted to Richard Thorn, who, in evening dress and 
with a red and white camellia in his button-hole, looked 
very fascinating, and was an object of admiration to the 
numerous young ladies who were present. Conspicuous 
amongst them was Rose Millwater, who, without doubt, was 
the prettiest girl there. Her hair, dressed with camellias, the 
gift of her lover, Thorn, was the envy of her companions ; 
for it was wavy and luxurious, and added greatly to her 
charms. Her pretty face was flushed with excitement, and 
she looked very proud and very happy, and when her lover 


took from the tree a cro^n, made of winter flowers, inter- 
twined with mistletoe, and placed it on her head, there was 
a burst of enthusiastic cheering that made her blush deeply, 
until her cheeks rivalled the hue of the brilliant berries of 
the hollv which hung on the walls. 

* Benold,' said Richard, when the outburst had somewhat 
subsided, ^ behold my rose, the Queen of Christmas.' 

^ And behold her thorn,' said a wag in the company. 

^ Well, you know there is never a rose without a thorn,' 
Richard answered, at which there was another peal of 
boisterous laughter. 

At this moment the door slightly opened, and the red 
£ice and shock head of Billy, the stable-help, appeared at the 
aperture. He had been to the stables and put the mare up, and 
finding the lower part of the house deserted, he had made 
his way to the dining-room, attracted by the laughter. 

Mr. Millwater was the first to see him. Billy did not 
speak, but beckoned ; and, in utter amazement, as if it had 
been Billy's ghost, instead of Billy himself, the banker 
hurried out into the passage, where he soon learned the cause 
of the lad's return. 

Mr. Millwater was, as the saying is, a long-headed man, 
and he immediately saw that his suspicions about the cheque 
being a forgery were fully confirmed, and somebody, who must 
have had knowledge of the fact that Hargood was going up to 
London with it, had waylaid him in order to get possession of 
the forged cheque, and thus destroy the documentary evi- 
dence, so that absolute proof of the forgery would be rendered 
impossible. The banker was greatly troubled, and, enjoining 
on Billy the necessity to keep perfectly silent in the house as to 
the cause of his return, he sent him down into the kitchen, 
and told him to get a good supper. Then he put on his 
hat and coat, and went immediately to Mrs. Hargood's, to 
see George and express his sympathy for the misfortune that 
had befallen him, as also to get from him a circumstantial 
account of the whole afiair. But George absolutely had 
nothing to tell. He had suddenly seen the flash of a lantern 
light, which, shining full in his face, rendered it impossible 


that he could see who held the lantern. Then, the next 
moment, he experienced a sort of sting on his head, and the 
rest was a blank. 

Mr. Millwater felt that there was a good deal of 
mystery in the af&ir, but he could not doubt for a moment 
that the crime had been very deliberately planned. George 
couldn't give the slightest information about his assailants ; 
but Billy, the stable-boy, was certain that there were two 
men, though he knew nothing more. Mrs. Hargood and 
her daughters were greatly distressed about George, and 
insisted on sending for the local surgeon, who found that he 
was suffering from a severe, but not dangerous, scalp wound ; 
but he stated that care and rest were most essential in 
order that risk from fever might be avoided. Mr. Millwater 
was scarcely less distressed, and resolved to amply recom- 
pense his unfortunate clerk, though he did not say anything 
about it then. He next proceeded to the police station, 
where he saw Mr. Miles, the inspector, telling him that he 
must leave no stone unturned to try and discover the 
miscreants, and he offered a reward of one hundred pounds 
for their capture and conviction. Mr. Miles had already 
taken steps, and had sent out detectives to try and track the 

^ If you get the slightest clue be sure you let me know 
instantly,* said Mr. Millwater, as he took his departure, 
and, much troubled and concerned, returned to his home. 
He found everyone very merry and apparently very happy. 
The young people had cleared the things out of the dining- 
room and were engaged in a dance. Mr. Millwater felt 
that he could not take part in the merriment of his guests, 
and so he made an excuse to retire, and, in company with 
two old friends, he went to the smoking-room and consoled 
himself with a cigar. 

It was midnight before the company separated, those 
who were not staying in the house going to their homes. 
Amongst these latter was Richard Thorn, and he lingered 
behind to say a few tender words to Rose. 

* You love me very much, don't you, darling ? ' he 


whispered, as they stood for a moment in the shadow thrown 
by the great hall door. 

She nestled a little closer to him and answered, ^ Yes/ 

*I am going to ask your father to let us be married 
early in the year/ he said, *and you must back up my 

One of the servants coming into the hall put an end to 
the ttte-d^ttte^ and Rose had only just time to say : 

^ Be sure you come early to-morrow, Richard, and go 
to church with us.' 

Promising to do this, he kissed her and was gone, 
and she hurried to her room, where memories of the 
past came trooping up, and, in spite of herself, she could 
not help feeling that her happiness would have been 
truer and more perfect if she were going to be the wife of 
George Hargood instead of Richard Thorn's wife. 

Christmas morning came in fine, but bitterly cold. 
The storm had ceased, but everywhere the snow was lying 
deeply, and trees and hedgerows were heavily laden, and 
were stony and rigid in frozen silence. Richard came 
early, as he had promised, and went to the old parish 
church, in company with Mr. Millwater, his daughter, and 
their friends. A thoroughly English Christmas dinner 
followed, and there was much merriment and goodwill. 
The banker had quite recovered his spirits, and entered 
heartily into the enjoyment. When the cloth had been 
removed and the wine and walnuts placed on the table, a 
servant entered and handed Mr. Millwater a note, which 
consisted of two lines only : 

*Sir, — Will you kindly grant me an interview, as I 
have something important to communicate. 

* Walter Milks.' 

Mr. Millwater guessed at once that the ^something 
important ' had reference to the previous night's aflair, and 
so, excusing himself, he went to his private room, where he 
found Mr. Miles, the inspector, waiting. 

* Excuse my breaking in on your festivities, sir, but you 


being the Justice of the Peace, I had no alternative,' said 
Miles apologetically. 

^Make no apologies, Miles,' Mr. Millwater returned. 
* Duty is dutv. I suppose you've caught somebody ? ' 

* Yes, sir. 

^ You know Daniel Rankin, who keeps the public-house, 
the Bull and Gate, in Moor Lane ? ' 

* Yes. You mean the man who was formerly butler or 
something to Mr. Gregson.' 

* That's him. He's a great betting man, and we've 
long had our eye on him. Well, he's one of 'em.' 

* One of them ! then there's another ? ' 

* Yes, sir.' 

< Where is he?' 

* Well, sir, I'm afraid you will be very much astonished 
when I teU vou.' 

Mr. Millwater turned a little pale, and he said quickly : 
< Who is it? who is it?' 

* Your own clerk, sir, Richard Thorn.* 

The banker staggered as if he had been struck, and 
gasped out : 

^ Impossible I impossible ! ' 

* I believe, sir, that it's quite true,' Miles said. * One 
of our men was sent down last night to the Bull and Gate, 
thinking that he might pick up something. He found that 
Rankin had been out all the evening, and had only just 
come in, and that he was wearing a scarf which matched 
the piece given to us by your lad, Billy. On the strength 
of that, I sent two men down this morning to ask him to 
account for his absence on the previous night. At first he 
refused to do this and got very confused, and at last con- 
tradicted himself on so many points that we arrested him on 
suspicion. When he was brought up to the station house, 
he said if we would let him off he would tell us who the 
real party was as did the job. We couldn't promise to let him 
off, but we said any useful information he might give us 
might tend to lessen the punishment that would be metea 


out to him if he were proved guilty. So he told us that 
he had some of Mr. Gregson's writing paper, which he 
brought away with him when he was discharged from 
Ashley Hall for drunkenness. Young Thorn had been 
engaged in some betting transactions with him, and was 
in his debt to the tune of several hundred pounds. Thorn 
suggested that if he knew how to do it safely he would take 
money from the bank, and replace it if his luck turned. 
Rankin then told him that if he would write a cheque on 
Mr. Gregson's paper he would present it for payment. It 
appears that Thorn is very skilful at imitating handwriting. 
The forgery was so far successfully carried out that the 
money was obtained. But it appears that Thorn became 
aware that Mr. Hargood was going to London with the 
forged cheque, and, in alarm, he went down to Rankin and 
persuaded him to join him in waylaying Hargood. I have 
been down to Thorn's house and questioned his mother 
and sisters, and I learn that he was out all the early part ot 
the evening, and came home very wet with snow ; and that 
having changed his clothes in great haste he came here.' 

Mr. Millwater was aghast and shocked at this revelation. 

It was a crushing, stinging, awful blow to his pride. It 
was some minutes before he could recover himself sufficiently 
to thank Miles, and tell him to keep Rankin in custody 
until the morrow, when he would sit on the bench to 
examine the prisoner. In the meantime, in order to avoid 
the shock and scandal on Christmas Day, no steps were to 
be taken with reference to Thorn until the next day, and 
after the magisterial examination of Rankin. 

The banker was glad to get rid of the inspector, and 
then he shut himself in his room for two hours, so over- 
whelmed was he with grief. But he was a practical man, 
and a man of action, not of sentiment. So at last he sent 
for his daughter, and, gently as he could, made the dreadful 
revelation to her. She was much shocked, and naturally 
indignant at the deception practised upon her. 

*We must keep this matter to ourselves to-day,' she 
said, * for it is a pity to spoil the pleasure of our guests.' 


She returned to the drawing-room, where their friends 
were assembled. Thorn was joking with some young 
ladies, and evidently enjoying his own jokes, for he was 
laughing heartily. As soon as the opportunity occurred, 
she went closer to him, and whispered : 

* Follow me into the conservatory 5 I wish to speak to 

There was something in her words and something in 
her manner that struck him as ominous. The laughter 
died from his face, and a chalky paleness spread over his 
features. He did follow her, and, trying to cheat himself into 
a belief that all was well, he said, with a sickly smile, as he 
endeavoured to take her hand : 

* What's all this mystery about. Rose ? * 

She drew back indignantly, and with flashing, angry eyes 
answered : 

* Touch me not. I know all your baseness — ^all your 
cowardly treachery, and I burn with indignation when I 
think that the lips of a thief have ever touched mine. You 
may well hang your head — well turn away in withering 
shame. But I am not unmindful that you have a mother 
and sisters, and that this is a time when charity, not 
bitterness, should be dominant in the human heart. For 
their sakes I am willing to save you from the penalty of 
your crime. Before the hand of justice clutches you, fly, 
and in some distant land repent of your error. If you want 
money I will give it to you. Here, take this five-pound 
note. It is all I have here, but it will help you on your 
way. Pass out of that door ; cross the lawn and gain the 
lane — then the world is before you. If you remain here 
you will be thrust into a felon's cell. Escape while there is 
yet a chance.' 

She ceased speaking. He turned his eyes upon her in 
mute appeal. His face was ghastly in its whiteness, and he 
tottered as if about to fall. He tried to utter some words, 
but they stuck in his throat. Then, without oflFering to 
take the bank note which she held towards him, he turned, 
passed through the doorway that gave access to the garden, 



and then the instincts of self-preservation rose strong, and 
he fled. 

To Mr. Millwater and his daughter it was a black and 
dismal Christmas Day, but they made a great efibrt to look 
cheerful, and they were heartily glad when night came and 
they were able to retire. 

The next morning, the man Rankin was brought 
before Mr. Millwater, who was the Justice of the Peace, 
and examination left no doubt that his story was true, and 
a warrant was issued for Thorn's arrest. But he had got a 
good start, and escaped from the country. Rankin was 
subsequently tried at the assizes, but in consideration of his 
confession, and of his having refunded nearly all the money, 
he got off with the light sentence of six months' imprison- 

George Hargood was ill for nearly a month, as inflamma- 
tion of the wound in his head set in. On his recovery, 
Mr. Millwater promoted him to Thorn's place in the bank, 
and in the course of another fortnight he had been invited 
by the banker to once more visit at his house. As was to 
be expected, this led to the renewal of the engagement 
between him and Rose, and before another Christmas had 
come round the banker had given his consent to their 
marriage, and they became man and wife on the twenty- 
fourth of December, that being the anniversary of Hargood's 
adventure on Dead Man's Moor. 




Chapter I 


On a bitter December night, some years ago, a young man 
and woman stood at the corner of the Champs Elys^es, at 
its junction with the Place de la Concorde, familiar to every 
visitor to Paris. The air was thick with flakes of snow, 
that were swirled and tossed about by a piercing east wind, 
shrieking furiously in the great square, which was dismal 
and deserted now, and looked so cold, gloomy, and cheerless 
that the very statues appeared to shiver. The magnificent 
avenue of the Champs Elys^es, generally so lively and 
brilliant, was silent save for the screaming wind and the 
hissing of the gas-jets, that were blown into blue stars one 
moment, to flare up into bursts of flame the next. An 
omnibus was toiling up the avenue, but save the driver of 
this vehicle no human being was in sight, except the man 
and woman alluded to. They stood close together in the 
shadow of a leafless tree. With great difliculty he held an 
open umbrella over the woman's head and shoulders, so as 
to give her some protection from the pitiless blasts. She 
was closely muffled up, a woollen shawl almost completely 
concealing the lower part of the face. He wore a long 
overcoat buttoned up to the chin, and a soft felt hat was 


pressed down over his brow. They were both well dressed, 
and it was obvious they belonged to the better class. 
They had been in earnest conversation for some time, 
and at length the young woman said in a tone of anxious- 
ness : 

^ Ernest, I must go now. I am afraid as it is that I 
shall have been missed, and if so I shall be subjected to all 
sorts of questioning.' 

She spoke in English, and her voice was sweet and 

*I won*t keep you any longer, dear,* he answered, 

* though it*s very hard to have to part from you.' 

* Never mind,' she replied soothingly. * Let us hope for 
the best. You know that you have my love, and I'll be 
true to you, come what may.' 

* You will ? ' he exclaimed eagerly. * You vow that 
solemnly and sacredly ? ' 


He bent forward and kissed her on her soft lips, which 
she put up to meet his. Then he said : 

^Let me accompany you as far as the door. It will 
at least give me a few minutes more of your dear com- 

* No, no, Ernest ! ' she cried nervously. * It is far better 
not. There is no telling who might see us, and if it were 
known that I had met you again it might lead to my being 
sent away from Paris altogether.' 

* True, true,' he answered, with a sigh. * Well, kiss 
me, love — again, and again. You will contrive to send me 
a few comforting lines, will you not, and arrange to see me 
at the earliest opportunity ? ' 

* Yes,' she said, as she warmly returned his embraces. 

* Adieu, Ernest. Take care of yourself. God bless you ! ' 

Their lips met again. They pressed each other's 
hands. Then, pulling her shawl close up to her throat, she 
left him, and hurrying over the wet and slippery pavement 
she made her way to the Rue St. Honori, where, ringing 
the bell at one of the large and old-fashioned houses that 


abound in that street, she was admitted by the concierge. 
The young man whom she had addressed as Ernest stood 
looking after her as she sped away until she had turned a 
corner and passed out of sight. Then he turned with a 
sigh, and was going in the direction of the bridge that 
crosses the Seine by the Chamber des Deputes, when 
another man stepped from the shadow of a tree and, placing 
himself in his path, exclaimed fiercely : 

* So you have been at your old game again, notwith- 
standing the repeated warnings you have had. Now 
listen, and take this as a final warning — if you do not 
cease your attentions to my cousin I will shoot you. So 
help me God ! ' 

^ Look here,' said Ernest, lowering his umbrella, stand- 
ing on the defensive and speaking resolutely, if not defiantly 
— * look here, Robert Bin^t, your threats I despise, and if I 
do not resent them it is for Marguerite's sake. You are 
playing the part of a spy, which is mean and contemptible, 
and I scorn you for it, but I totally deny your right to 
try to coerce your cousin to take a course which is obnoxious 
to her.* 

* Indeed, Mr. Ernest Milner,* sneered the other man. 
^ By what right, I want to know, do you dare to intrude 
yourself into a family where you are not wanted ? More- 
over, I was not obnoxious to Marguerite before you 
appeared upon the scene. And it is only since you have 
filled her head with ridiculous nonsense that she has chosen 
to disobey her father. But now I warn you that, just as 
sure as you stand there at this moment, I'll blow your 
brains out if you attempt to communicate with Marguerite 
in any way. Cease all connection with her if you wish 
to live. I've said my say. That is the last word — re- 
member it.' 

He turned on his heel and walked away, and was soon 
lost in the gloom. For some moments Ernest Milner 
stood looking after him, and irresolute, as though he could 
not make up his mind what to do ; but at last he muttered 
wrathfuUy : 


* I care nothing for your threats, and, as clever as you 
think yourself, vou may be outwitted yet/ 

Soothing himself somewhat with this reflection, he 
pursued his way across the Seine and to the Quartier Latin, 
where he lodged. 

Ernest Milner was an Englishman, as his name be- 
tokens. He was studjring medicine in Paris, and was a 
student at the College de France. He was the son of an 
English physician who had eained considerable eminence, 
but having a mania for speculation had gambled his means 
away on the Stock Exchange, and having ruined himself 
and his iamily went out of his mind and died suddenly. 
His son, being thrown upon his own resources, had taken 
up medicine as his profession, and had gone to Paris to 
complete his studies and acquire a knowledge of the French 
language. At this time he had been resident in Paris for 
two years, occupying humble lodgings in the Quartier 
Latin, and studying hard for his diploma. He was a good- 
looking young man, about three and twenty years of age, 
and he was accounted by his professors and fellow-students 
as being very clever and very promising. 

About a year after his arrival in Paris he met Marguerite 
de la Motte. He happened to go into an omnibus with 
her one day at the Madeleine. When the conductor came 
for her fare she found that she had left her purse at home 
and was absolutely without a sou. Ernest gallantly paid 
the money and thus commenced an acquaintance with her. 
A few days later he met her by chance in the gardens of 
1 he Tuileries, and the acquaintance begun in the omnibus 
was strengthened and resulted in their ultimately felling in 
love with each other ; but little did either dream that it 
would lead to the terrible circumstances and bitter sufiering 
liCreafter recounted. 


Chapter II 

A woman's resolution 

Colonel de la Motte was a descendant of a Huguenot 
family who had sought refuge in England. When about 
twenty years of age young Motte returned to France, 
entered the French army, and subsequently went through 
the Crimean campaign. Previous to this he married a 
wealthy French lady, who brought him a fortune. But she 
died during her husband's absence in the Crimea, leaving 
him an only daughter. 

He had been passionately attached to his wife, and her 
death aiFected him in a very marked degree. It was said 
that his mind had become slightly unhinged, though this 
showed itself only in a certain eccentricity, which was 
noticeable more particularly in his dress and habits. He 
usually attired himself in the costume of Louis XIV.'s 
reign. He was fond of seclusion, and inclined to be miserly, 
although he had ample means ; for, apart from his pension 
when he retired from the service, he had some private means 
of his own as well as his wife's fortune. But he was con- 
stantly haunted with a fear that he would die poor and be 
unable to leave his child anything. He had a hobby. He 
dabbled in astronomy, and at the top of his house in the 
Rue St. Honor^ he had erected a small observatory, and 
here he spent many hours of his life. He was greatly 
respected by his neighbours, for, although parsimonious, he 
was a man of unblemished honour. He was proud of his 
pedigree, and while he would haggle for half an hour about 
a sou, he would never be in anyone's debt to the extent of 
a centime. 

His daughter Marguerite, who was nineteen years of age, 
was noted for her remarkable beauty. Her mother had been 
beautiful, but the daughter rivalled the mother. Marguerite's 
life was a dull and monotonous one, for her father would not 
allow her to go much into society, and he kept no company 


himself. Marguerite did the cooking, for only one female 
servant had been retained — ^an old woman, whose husband, 
Jacques Guillmot, occupied the position of concierge. Jacques, 
who was nearly eighty years of age, was an army pensioner, 
who had been in the same regiment with his master in 
the Crimea. 

From the foregoing particulars it will be readily under- 
stood that the life of Mile, de la Motte was not a very bright 
one, and she felt its dulness, although she uttered no com- 
plaint. Almost her sole visitor was her cousin, Robert 
Bin6t. He was the son of her mother's brother, and had 
been educated for the profession of an analytical chemist. 
As he had decided talent he might have distinguished him- 
self in the walk he had chosen, but he was idle and dissolute, 
and had already squandered a small fortune. He had the 
misfortune to be singularly handsome, and being fully 
conscious of this it had begot in him an inordinate vanity. 

His uncle the Colonel, who was quite blinded to his 
faults, intended him for his son-in-law, in accordance 
with a promise he had made to his wife before her death. 
In accordance with this promise Robert, who was thirty 
years of age, had been regarded for years by all the neigh- 
bours and friends as the affianced husband of the colonel's 
daughter. Marguerite, however, did not like her cousin. 
She knew of his dissolute habits and spendthrift ways, and on 
more than one occasion she had told her father of her 
aversion ; but he had pooh-poohed it as a girlish whim, 
and said that she should become Robert's wife as soon as 
she was twenty-one, and that he Would give her a handsome 
dowry, and in the event of his dying before the marriage 
all his money would pass to her on the sole condition of 
her marrying her cousin, but failing that it would be distri- 
buted among the hospitals of Paris. 

Marguerite naturally felt her lot to be a hard one. To 
be forced to marry a man whom she did not like was odious 
to her. But what could she do ? She had no means of 
her own, and in France a girl, however good-looking she 
may be, has little chance of becoming a wife unless she 


has a dowry. She therefore resigned herself to her fete and 
tolerated her cousin's visits until she met with Ernest 
Milner. Then she became a changed woman, and when 
she had carried on a secret courtship with her new lover for 
two or three months she determined to be secret no longer, 
and boldly took him to her father's house and introduced him 
to her father as the man she would choose for a husband. 

The result was totally different from what she had 
expected. Colonel de la Motte flew into a violent passion 
and threatened her with all sorts of pains and penalties. 
Of course he told his nephew, and then there was another 
scene. Robert, who had so much at stake, would not brook 
even a shadow of a rival. 

In a few days the Colonel had forgotten the incident, and 
was once more absorbed in his astronomical observations. 
But not so Robert. Jealousy had quickened his vigilance, 
and he watched his cousin as a leopard will watch its prey. 
She on her part resolved to have Ernest, and so secretly 
corresponded with him, and occasionally met him, but he 
never answered her letters, as they were not likely to reach 
her hands. Robert at last discovered that she was still 
keeping up the connection, and the result was several 
unpleasant scenes. 

On the night alluded to at the beginning of the narrative 
she had gone out to meet her lover, believing that Robert 
had left Paris for a day or two on a visit to some friends. 
But he had evidently told her this to deceive her, and then 
had played the part of the spy, as we have seen. After 
having threatened his rival, Robert proceeded, before his 
passion had cooled down, to his uncle's house, and rated 
Marguerite in a very violent manner. For a time she bore 
his reproaches and abuse, though she wept broken-heartedly. 
But at last, stung beyond endurance by the bitter things he 
said of his rival, she turned upon him almost fiercely and 
exclaimed : 

^ You are a coward and a mean, low fellow, and I hate 
you. And now I will tell you this, whatever the conse- 
quences, whatever may be done to me, whatever my father 


txuy do or say, I will be the wife of Ernest Milner. Neither 
for the sake of my fitther, nor anyone else, will I consent to 
be kept from the man I love, and to marry the one I hate/ 
Her cousin was startled and surprised at her outburst. 
Her meekness and submissiveness had hitherto been such 
conspicuous traits in her character that this sudden revolt 
was all the more astounding, while, if she persisted in keeping 
her word, he knew that it meant to him the loss of a fortune ; 
and already his impecunious position had forced him into 
discounting that fortune to the usurers. He therefore 
viewed with ill-concealed alarm her resolution to break her 
trammels and wed poverty with love, in preference to riches 
with hate. Consequently he tried to undo the mischief he 
had done and to win her favour again, but she replied that 
she would never be his wife while Ernest Milner lived. 

* Would you if he were dead ? ' he asked. 

' No, for then I should die too,' she answered. 

^ But remember,' he exclaimed in his desperation — 
* remember that if you marry anyone else your father's 
wealth passes out of the family ! ' 

* Oh ! I am aware that it is only my fortune you want,' 
she observed with contempt ; ^ but you are doomed to 
disappointment, for I will accept whatever destiny may be 
in store for Ernest. He is clever and industrious, and will 
rise. Of that I have no fear.' 

Robert bit his lip in an effort to control his temper. To 
hear his rival's praises thus sung was galling in the extreme ; 
but harsh words would do no good, and would only prejudice 
his cause. He therefore resolved to dissemble, and changing 
his tactics he said plaintively : 

* You are treating me very harshly, Marguerite ; and 
the better life I had hoped to lead with you you are putting 
out of my reach. I am aware that I have been foolish and 
reckless in the past, but I have not only hoped, butfirmly 
resolved, to make amends in the future, and as your husband 
devote myself to the promotion of your happiness. 
Remember that we are blood relations, and it was the 
dying wish of your mother, as it is the living wish of your 


father, that you and I should become man and wife. How- 
ever much, therefore, you may be inclined to disobey your 
lather, think, at any rate, of your dying mother, my aunt, 
and remember that dying wishes are ever held sacred.' 

Marguerite was touched by his manner and moved by 
his specious argument. The reference to her mother had 
had an effect, and he saw it. Tears gathered in her beauti- 
ful eyes as she answered : 

* I would wish, Robert, to obey my dying mother's 
wishes. But when my mother lay on her death-bed I was 
too young to form any opinion of my own, and I am 
convinced that if she lived now she would never try to force 
me to take a course that is repugnant to me. As my 
husband, I am convinced you could never gain my love. 
Why then should you desire to place us both in a position 
that could not fail to be productive of unhappiness and 
bitterness ? * 

* I do not accept your views as correct,' he said. * You 
don't know your own mind at present. At any rate, think 
well before you take a step that will mean ruin for me and 
unending misery for yourself ! ' 

* What would you have me do then ? ' she exclaimed 
tearfully and in evident distress. 

* Give up Ernest Milner,' he answered. 

* Never,' she exclaimed with energy. 

Before Robert could make any reply the door opened, 
and a tall, grey-haired man, with a very wrinkled face and 
sunken eyes, appeared. It was Colonel de la Motte. Both 
Marguerite and Robert were confused at his inopportune 
entrance on the scene. He saw at once that something was 
wrong, and looking from one to the other he asked : 

^ What is the meaning of this ? Marguerite in tears ! 
Have you been quarrelling ? ' There was no answer. Then 
he said sternly, ^ Marguerite, what is the matter ? Speak.' 

Her only response, however, was a flood of tears, and 
she hid her face with her handkerchief. 

* Robert,' cried the Colonel still more sternly, * I look to 
you for an explanation,' 


*And in common honesty I must eive it,* Robert 
answered with well-feigned reluctance. 'Marguerite and 
I have had some words, for she has again been to see Ernest 

Marguerite flashed a glance of withering scorn at him 
as he spoke, and with a passionate gesture Colonel de la 
Motte exclaimed : 

^ Is this true, Marguerite ? ' 

^ It is,' she Altered. 

* Marguerite,' he said with bitter reproach, ^ you have 
been my idol, and I have looked for love, obedience, and 
gratitude from you. But, mark me well, and carefully 
weigh my words. If you marry not the man of my choosing 
you shall marry no other, for 1 will put you into a convent 
before that shall happen. Here, before you, is your future 
husband. You may marry your cousin and gain a fortune ; 
but go against my wishes, and I will tear you out of my 
heart, and even curse you ! ' 

He could not trust himself to say anything more, but, 
turning hurriedly, left the room. Marguerite was over- 
whelmed ; she devotedly loved her father and dreaded his 
wrath ; and she stood now in fear and doubt and trembling. 
Robert approached her and, taking her hand, said : 

* Why should you make dissensions in the family ? Why 
should you break your father's heart ? Write to Milner 
and tell him he is not to see you again.' 

* Never ! ' she said, as she pushed him away, almost 
violently. * I am mistress of my own heart, and will 
dispose of it as I think proper. I have sacredly pledged 
myself to Ernest, and unless he should disgrace himself in 
my eyes I will be true to him.' 

Robert felt that it would be useless to argue with her 
while she was in her present frame of mind, but her words, 
^ Unless he should disgrace himself in my eyes,' sank into 
his brain, and he mentally resolved to try and find some 
means for making Milner disgrace himself. So, wishing his 
cousin good-night, he left the house. 


Chapter III 


In order that the incidents which follow should be more 
clearly understood, it will be necessary to describe Colonel 
de la Motte's house. The lower door opened from the 
street into a broad passage, and, as is generally the case in 
Paris and other large French towns, it was in charge of a 
cmciergey the old army pensioner of whom mention has 
already been made. He occupied a small room on the left 
side, with a window that commanded a view of the passage. 
A cord at the head of his bed enabled him to pull the latch 
of the door back and give admittance to anyone seeking it, 
and from the window he could observe who passed. At 
night-time a small reflector lamp was placed on the window 
ledge in such a position that its light fell full upon anyone 
entering the passage, either coming in from the street or 
going out. At the end of the corridor, which was short, a 
flight of stone steps turned to the right and led up to another 
door, which was always kept on the latch and could be 
opened with a latchkey. Marguerite, her father, and the 
old housekeeper each had a latchkey to this door, which 
gave access to the house proper, and on this flat was the 
kitchen, the drawing-room. Marguerite's sitting and bed 
room, and the old woman's bedroom. A storey higher, 
M. Motte had his dressing-room, a library, and a sitting-room, 
and on the upper storey of all was his observatory. This had 
formerly been a garret, but he had taken the original roof 
off and put on a dome-shaped glass one, and had fitted up a 
large telescope. The floor was littered with charts, plans, 
books, and papers of various sorts, while the walls were 
covered with a series of astronomical charts, illustrating by 
sections the whole of the starry firmament. Adjoining this 
observatory was a small store-room or lumber closet. It was 
reached by a door from the landing, and it was lighted by a 


small sliding glass panel in the wall of the observatory itself. 
It was used principally for storing old boxes, papers, and 
general lumber, and was seldom entered by anyone. 

We will now return to Ernest Milner. On the night 
that he parted from Marguerite and was met and threatened 
by her cousin, he wended his way to his humble lodgings in 
a very troubled frame of mind. It is true that Marguerite 
had given him a promise to be faithful, but when could he 
hope to be in a position to claim her ? His means were so 
limited that they barely sufficed to pay his fees and his board 
and lodging. And, even when he had passed his examina- 
tions and got his diploma, he would still have to obtain a 
practice, and therefore, taking the most favourable view, and 
assuming that nothing intervened to wean Marguerite from 
him, he could hardly hope to be in a position to make her 
his wife for four or nve years. 

He sighed despairingly as he thought of this. Four or 
five years to an ardent lover seemed an age ; and he felt that 
life without Marguerite was hardly worth living. Had he 
been permitted to have free intercourse with her, he could 
have worked and toiled cheerfully for any length of time. 
But, as it was, his interviews with her would be few and 
very far between, and though she wrote to him occasionally, 
and had given him permission to write to her once a month, 
on a fixed day, so that she might be on the look-out for the 
letter, this hardly compensated him for his not being able to 
see her. 

These reflections troubled him for several days, and then 
he resolved to risk a letter to her, and ask her to repeat her 
vows of faithfulness in order to give him comfort in his 
loneliness. His letter was filled with the * burning eloquence 
of love,' and, alluding to her father, he said : 

* Is there no hope that during your father's lifetime I can 
claim you for my own ? Is there nothing on earth can 
move him from his stubborn obstinacy, and induce him to 
favour my suit ? If not, then I must say — and I say it out 
of the very excess of my love for you, and you will under- 
stand the feeling* that prompts | me to say it — that his death 


alone can give me happiness, the happiness, indescribable and 
unutterable, of possessing you. But for your beloved sake 
I pray fervently that he may long be spared to you. Sorrow 
and pleasure are ever woven together, and the loss of a 
father would give you a devoted husband, who would 
worship the very ground upon which you walked.' 

The letter containing these remarkable passages was duly 
despatched, and he waited in anxiety for several days for the 
answer he hoped to get. More than a week elapsed, then 
there came a note that put his heart into a flutter. It con- 
tained only a few lines, which said : 

^ Come here on Christmas Eve between nine and ten — I 
expect to be alone. The concierge will be absent then, but 
the latch of the lower door shall be left up, so that you can 
enter, and I enclose a latchkey whereby you can let 
yourself in. Be sure and burn this letter as a precautionary 

If Ernest was pleased he was also surprised. It did 
strike him as peculiar that she should have sent him a latch- 
key ; and it also seemed to him that the writing was 
somewhat different from her usual style. But at kst he 
persuaded himself that this was mere fancy, and as for the 
key — well, she had some well-founded motive in sending that, 
he was sure, and, in accordance with her request, he held 
the paper over the flame of his lamp, and watched it burn 
into a black fragment. He regretted almost immediately 
that he had burnt it — not that there was any warm expres- 
sion of love in it that made it worth preserving, but he 
remembered that he had two or three of her dear letters, 
which had contained no such request, stored carefully away 
in his writing desk in company with her portrait and a lock 
of her beautiful hair, and he might have compared the hand- 
writing, for he felt sure there was some marked difference. 
Where the difference lay he could not precisely determine, 
and his precipitate action rendered comparison impossible 
now. She wrote rather a striking hand, her writing being 
very legible, quite free from flourishes, and more in the 
style of a man's than a woman's hand. 



He continued for a little time to dwell upon the subject, 
and to feel troubled in an unaccountable way. That is, he 
really could not suggest any substantial grounds for his 
trouble beyond a fancied difierence in the handwriting ; and 
he had stupidly rendered it impossible to set his doubt at rest 
by impulsively destroying the letter. However, when he 
had pondered on the subject for some hours, and had argued 
with himself pro and con^ he came to the conclusion that he 
was vexing himself with mere imagination, and so he dis- 
missed the thing from his mind, and looked longingly 
forward to the assignation. 

The Christmas Eve of that year was one of the coldest 
and brightest that had been experienced for many years. 
The air was almost arctic in its keenness and crispness. 
From a sky that was absolutely without cloud the stars 
shone with amazing brilliancy, and the moon, which was 
almost full, filled the boulevards, streets, and squares with a 
weird and silvery light. On every tree and shrub the hoar- 
frost sparkled ; not a breath of wind stirred, and the foliage 
was as motionless as if carved out of marble. Few pedes- 
trians, save the mis/rabies and the waifs, who seemed to be 
forgotten alike by God and man, were abroad, for the cold 
was so intense ; but a heterogeneous collection of vehicles 
rolled along conveying friends to visit friends, for the 
Parisians are fond of visiting on Christmas Eve. 

Ernest Milner left his lodgings at half-past eight, and 
walked at a rapid rate in order to keep up the animal heat, 
but even as it was the cold was so intense that in spite of 
heavy coat and muffler he was half frozen when he reached 
the Rue St. Honori. He found the door of M. de la 
Motte's house unlatched, as the letter told him he would 
find it. He entered, closed the door after him and latched 
it. The corridor was in darkness, but he groped his way 
along, crept cautiously up the stairs, and let himself in with 
the latchkey. The passage of the house was illmninated 
by an octagonal lamp of red glass, suspended frdm the 
ceiling. He paused and listened, but alt was still. He had 
expected that Marguerite would have been on the qui vive, 


but obviously she was not. He was acquainted with that 
part of the house from his former visits, and so he made his 
way into the drawing-room, having first hung his hat 
on a peg on the hat-stand. A lamp burned on the 
chimneypiece, but no one was in the room. He waited 
for at least ten minutes, but nobody came, and the house 
was silent as death, save for the ticking of a marble clock 
which told that it was half-past nine. Ernest got a 
little uneasy. He was in a delicate position ; if anyone 
else discovered him there what explanation could he offer, 
and would he not be seriously compromised ? Where 
was Marguerite i Was she purposely keeping away ? 
Had she deceived him ? He was angry with himself for 
thinking the latter thought. She deceive him ! Pshaw, 
the thing was impossible. 

In the observatory above Colonel de la Motte was 
studying the stars. He was oblivious of everything and 
everybody. He was an enthusiast, a dreamer, and on such 
a night as this he was rapt and absorbed in the contempla- 
tion of the myriads of worlds that studded this unclouded 
sky. Lying back on his cushioned platform, his eye. 
riveted to the eyepiece of his telescope, he heard nothing 
save his own breathing, even if he heard that, and saw 
nothing save those worlds of dazzling lights. He was a 
star-gazer, and he had no thought for anything else. 

Slowly and silently as he so gazed, the glass panel that 
admitted light to the closet already described slid back, 
and in the aperture a man's &ce, pale and fierce-looking, 
appeared. But only for a moment, then it was withdrawn, 
and the panel was partly closed again, an opening being 
left of about two inches. At this opening there was 
thrust forth what seemed to be a brass tap, from which 
issued a slight hissing sound. 

In a minute or two the star-gazer's hand, which was on 
the adjusting screw of the telescope, dropped down like a 
lump oif lead and with a strange suddenness. Then his head 
fell back upon the platform and rolled from. side to side for 
a few moments as if he were in agony. His deeply-lined 

T 2 


and careworn fiice became livid and ghastly, and the eyes 
appeared to bulge out. There were two or three convulsive 
throes of the whole bodyi a great heaving of the chest, a 
bursting sigh, then motionlessness and silence. 

The stars would roll in their courses for cycles and 
ages yet imborn, but the star-gazer was dead. It was 
murder ; but how, by whom, and why ? 

Ernest Milner watched the marble clock on the mantel- 
piece with weary and anxious eyes. The hands pointed to 
ten, half-past. Then his ear caught the sounds of ap- 
proaching footsteps. Marguerite at last, he thought, as he 
sprang up to greet her. The door opened, and not 
Marguerite, but the old housekeeper, appeared. 

Ernest started back in disgust and surprise, and the 
woman screamed, but, quickly recognising him, said : 

* What are you doing here ? * 

^I-— I wanted to see Mademoiselle Marguerite,' he 
stammered confiisedlv. 

*Your want will not be gratified, then,' she replied 
angrily. ^ Mademoiselle Marguerite has gone to spend the 
evening with some friends, and will not certainly be back 
before midnight.' 

Ernest felt as if a blow had been dealt upon his head. 
He was confused and almost staggered. A deception had 
been practised upon him — ^for what purpose he could not 
pause to inquire then, for he was overwhelmed with shame 
and mortification. He stammered out some sort of an 
apology, wished the old woman good-night, and passed 
hurriedly down the stairs. As he reached the lower door, 
the concierge*s lamp was burning brightly, and the man 
himself, aroused by the noise that Ernest made in en- 
deavouring to open the door, slid back his window, peered 
out, and exclaimed, ^ Who is there ? ' Ernest mumbled 
something about his having made a mistake. His brain 
was in a whirl. He got the door open at last, hurried out 
into the moonlit street, and literally ran to his lodgings. 

Christmas Eve waned and merged into Christmas 
morning. Paris was frozen into stony stillness ; the stars 


still burned with frosty splendour ; the spirit of sleep had 
* knit up the ravelled sleeve of care,* and even the outcasts 
and the forlorn had slunk away somewhere — some of them, 
perhaps, into the Seine, that, shimmering with the sheen of 
silver, flowed silently and mysteriously to the sea. 

Boom ! boom ! boom ! The brazen tongues of the 
bells told that the third hour of the Redeemer's natal day 
had finished. And when the reverberations had died away 
on the icy air, a cab, filled with armed gendarmes, rolled 
noisily along, taking its way southwards until it reached the 
Quartier Latin. Then it stopped, and the men of the law 
descended. There were six of them, and they marched in 
single file to the lodging of Ernest Milner, and while two 
remained outside, four entered, and, mounting to his bed- 
room, where he soundly slept, they awakened him rudely, 
and arrested him on a charge of suspected murder. 

Chapter IV 


Paris awoke on that holy Christmas morning to the cry of 
^ Murder,' a cry that was taken up and echoed and re- 
echoed from one end to the other of the French capital. 
The mysterious death of Colonel de la Motte excited 
unusual interest, for he was well known as a retired army 
officer who had rendered brilliant service during the terrible 
struggle in the Crimea, and he had also made a name for 
himself as an amateur dabbler in the science of astronomy. 
Moreover, the circumstances of his death were sensational 
and shrouded in mystery. The particulars that had been 
gathered so far showed that, being Christmas Eve, Mile, de 
la Motte, in company with her cousin, Robert Bin^t, went 
out early to the house of some relatives to take part in 
certain festivities in connection with a Christmas tree. The 
housekeeper and her husband, the concierge^ had also been 
absent for a couple of hours visiting friends. The Colonel, 


who seldom paid visits, had been left alone in his observatory 
engaeed in his favourite pursuit, the night being excep- 
tionally brilliant. The housekeeper returned at half-past 
ten, and on going upstairs was amazed to find a man in the 
house. She recognised him as the person who had called 
once or twice before to see Mile. Motte. He seemed to be 
much confused on seeing the housekeeper, and stammered 
out something about having come to speak to Mile. Motte. 
The housekeeper, knowing that the young lady had been 
out all the evening, in accordance with an engagement 
made days before, was aware that his statement was false, 
and as soon as he had gone she began to suspect that his 
motive had been robbery. She first of all descended to her 
husband, who had been no less surprised to see a man, 
whom he recognised, taking his departure. Making known 
her fears to him, she and he proceeded immediately to the 
observatory, although as a rule the Colonel was very angry 
if anyone intruded upon him. But believing that some- 
thing was wrong they felt it was their duty to communicate 
with him. They knocked at his door, but got no response. 
Knocked again with the same result. Again, and still 
an ominous silence. Then in fear and trembling they 
entered the room, and were immediately horrified by seeing 
M. de la Motte motionless on his sloping platform, upon 
which he reclined when studying the stars. They called 
him, but he made no sign, and then, almost beside themselves 
with fear, they hurried out as fast as they could for Dr. 
Tricolet, who resided close by. That gentleman returned 
immediately and saw at once that the Colonel was dead. At 
first the doctor thought that death was due to apoplexy, buf 
a more critical examination caused him to come to another 
conclusion. There were certain appearances about the eyes 
and face which did not accord with an apoplectic attack. 
The doctor summoned two colleagues, one of them being a 
well-known scientist, and the three gentlemen were unani- 
mous in their opinion that the deceased had not died a 
natural death. The police agents were therefore communi- 
cated with, and they heard the story of the concierge and his 


wife. Then they made a cursory search of the premises to 
ascertain if robbery had been committed. On going into 
Mile. Motte's room they observed a jewel-case on the table. 
One of the police examined the box, and was surprised to 
find it was not locked. It contained a few odds and ends 
of almost valueless jewellery, but it also contained a letter 
addressed to Mile. Motte. The letter was opened and read. 
It was from Ernest Milner, and contained this damning 
passage. Alluding to her father, the writer said : 

* His death alone will give me happiness.^ 

The police took possession of the letter, and at once six 
gendarmes were despatched to effect the arrest of Ernest 
Milner, to whom suspicion strongly pointed as the criminal. 

The above were the particulars that were briefly gathered 
by the representatives of the various papers, and they were 
of a nature to arouse public excitement to a pitch of 

Pending the visit of the juge cT instruction the body of 
the Colonel was not allowed to be touched or seen. The 
observatory door was locked and sealed, and an armed 
gendarme was placed on guard. 

It was after one o'clock in the morning when Mile, de 
la Motte returned home. She drove up in a cab with her 
cousin, and the daughter and the nephew were informed of 
the tragedy. Marguerite went into hysterics, and two 
nurses had to be procured to take charge of her. Robert 
Bin^t was also dreadfully overcome, and, pleading illness, 
went home. 

The juge d^tnstruction arrived in due course, attended 
by various other functionaries, and having heard all the par- 
ticulars and the opinions of the medical men, he ordered a 
post-mortem examination to be made. 

Within twelve hours of the death the examination was 
made in the observatory. All the organs were found to be 
perfectly healthy, but the lungs were bloated and almost 
black, and the blood had clotted in the veins. 

These unusual appearances left no doubt in the minds of 
the medical men that the deceased had been killed by some 



poisonous gas. This, of course, added a new element of 
sensationalism and mystery to the crime. And it now 
became of paramount importance that the nature of the gas 
that had destroyed the Colonel's life should be determined. 
In the observatory a small coke-stove was used to warm the 
place, which was lighted with an oil lamp. This stove, 
however, was found to be in perfect order, and gave off no 
fumes, while the lamp contained colza oil. Besides, the 
large aperture in the roof through which the telescope pro- 
truded would have rendered suffocation by the coke almost, 
if not absolutely, impossible, as the gas would have escaped 
too rapidly. A minute and critical examination was there- 
fore carried out, and it resulted in an important discovery 
being made in the lumber-room which adjoined the 
observatory. The police found here a pear-shaped india- 
rubber collapsible bag, with a brass nozzle and tap. This 
important piece of evidence was at once taken charge of, 
in order that it might be subjected to a critical test. The 
test resulted in the discovery of traces of carbonic acid gas. 
This at once seemed to explain the cause of death. The 
bag had been filled with the deadly carbonic acid, which had 
been insidiously introduced into the Colonel's observatory. 
Now it was certain that no ordinary criminal would resort 
to such a means of destroying his victim, and on the face of 
it it seemed another damning piece of evidence against 
Milner. He was a man with scientific knowledge. He would 
naturally be acquainted with the deadly nature of carbonic 
acid gas, and the certain and almost sudden death it would 
produce, while the difficulty of determining the cause of 
death so produced was so great as to be almost impossible. 
In the present instance the precise cause could not have been 
determined except by the egregious folly of the criminal 
himself in leavmg the bag behind him. When Ernest 
Milner heard the charge against him he was stunned, for he 
saw at once how circumstances must necessarily point to 
him as the criminal. When he recovered from the first 
shock he begged for writing materials, and he wrote a 
frantic [appeal to Mile, de la Motte, to state everything 


she knew that would be likely to clear him from the awful 
charge. But she had already been examined by the police 
agents and questioned as to the letter discovered in her 
jewel-case, and her attention was particularly called to the 
passage already referred to. That passage could not fail to 
have an eiiect upon her, and she was compelled, even against 
herself, to think Ernest guilty. 

Poor girl ! it was an awful and cruel blow to her, and 
rendered doubly heavy by the thought that the man whom 
she had vowed to love had murdered her father. But on 
Milner the blow fell with even more crushing force, and he 
felt verily as if he would go raving mad. Appearances were 
against him, he knew, but he knew also that he was 
innocent. But, alas, innocent men sometimes fall victims 
to circumstantial evidence. He protested his innocence — 
protested it with the burning passion of despair ; but he 
might as well have appealed to the moon. The police were 
used to protestations of that kind. Then suddenly in his 
awful misery he bethought him of the letter he had received 
and which he had been fool enough to destroy. ^I have 
been drawn into a trap,' he thought, and who could have 
done it if not his rival ? This new thought gave him new 
hope, and he resolved to make a desperate fight for his good 
name, his honour, his love. He engaged an eminent 
counsel, to whom he told the whole story. This gentleman, 
who for forty years had been dealing with criminal cases, at 
once saw that there was mystery in the present one, but the 
mystery was penetrable. He instantly sought an interview 
with Mile, de la Motte, although she was prostrated and 
threatened with serious illness. She declared that she had 
not sent the letter to Ernest which had induced him to go 
to the house. 

The counsel was therefore reduced to thinking that 
Ernest's story was a mere fabrication, or he had really 
received a letter. He inclined to the latter belief, for there 
were certain elements in the afl&ir which, to the lawyer's 
mind, indicated that the criminal was at large. 

With exceeding tact the counsel led Marguerite to 


speak of her cousin, and he learnt numy things about him, 
and some of these things claimed his serious attention and 
aroused his suspicions. Next, thanks to the system of 
intricate espionage peculiar to France, he discovered a 
manufacturer in the Boulevard Montmartre who made all 
sorts of articles for chemical laboratories, and one of the 
salesmen in the employment of this manufacturer remembered 
having sold, a fortnight previous, an indiarubber bag with a 
brass nozzle and tap, the bag being such a one as was 
frequently used by chemists in their business. The seller 
hadn't any very distinct recollection of the buyer, for it was 
an ordinary transaction ; but, so far as he could, he described 
him, and this description, although more general than 
detailed, seemed to the lawyer to tally with Robert Bin^t. 
He therefore had an interview with Bin^t, ostensibly to get 
some particulars from him about his rival, but in reality to 
probe Bin6t himself. But he had to confess himself baffled. 
By no word, by no sign, by no look did Bin^t create a 
shadow of suspicion. His manner was that of a man who 
was entirely innocent, and who was broken-hearted with 
grief at the terrible blow that had &llen upon the family. 
The counsel was puzzled. If this man, he thought, was 
really the criminal he was the most marvellously self- 
possessed man he had ever had to deal with. The fourth day 
from the night of the murder had arrived, and the 
authorities had determined that the suspected man should be 
confronted with the victim. [The reader need scarcely be 
reminded that this is a custom in France.] The body still 
lay in the observatory, and no member of the family had seen 
it. That afternoon it was to be buried, and though 
Marguerite sadly wanted to look her last upon her father's 
face, it was deemed wise to dissuade her, as the efFect might 
be to unhinge her mind, or seriously increase her illness. 
Her cousin added his persuasion to the others, and she 
yielded, though reluctantly. 

* There is no reason why you should not take your 
farewell look of your dead uncle, M. Bin^t,' said the counsel, 
as he fixed *his eves on Bin^t's face* 


Bin6t made some demur to this, but Marguerite told him 
it was his duty, and so he consented. 

Again the lawyer was baffled, for though Bin6t had 
offered an objection, it was urged so naturally that there was 
nothing to excite suspicion. 

At two o'clock the prisonei was brought in a cab, 
guarded by four gendarmes, to M. Motte's house. Already 
the juge d^ instruction J the public prosecutor, the doctors, 
and several criminal detectives had arrived, and all being 
ready, they proceeded to the observatory, Milner walking 
between two gendarmes. The counsel had entered into 
conversation with Bin6t, the topic, naturally, being the 

The juge entered the room first, and was followed by 
his subordinates. Then came the prisoner, closely guarded, 
Bin^t and the counsel bringing up the rear. The corpse 
lay upon a shutter, supported by trestles. It was covered with 
a sheet, and when, in accordance with the custom in such 
cases, the prisoner had been placed close to it, and in such 
a position that his eyes must see it, the sheet was suddenly 
removed, and the ghastly, pallid, and puffed face, with the 
glassy eyes staring widely as they had been purposely left by 
the doctors, was revealed to view. Ernest Milner made 
no start, and not a muscle moved to betray anything like 
guilt. Many questions were put to him by the jugey but 
he answered them clearly, and without the slightest hesita- 

* Gentlemen,' said the Jugej * I think that is all I 
require of you ; and as there is nothing more to do, the 
prisoner may be removed.' 

* Pardon me, Monsieur le Juge,* said the counsel, stepping 
forward. * I have a full conviction of my client's innocence, 
and I would like to impose another test.' Of course the 
request was granted, and, taking the hand of the corpse, he 
placed it in the hand of the prisoner. ^ Say as I say,' he 
said. ^ Holding the hand of this dead man, I swear before 
Almighty God that I am utterly innocent of having caused 
the man $ death,' 


Ernest repeated the words firmly and dearly, and with 
the air of one who spoke the truth. 

^ I will now ask that gentleman there,' said the counsel, 
indicating Bin^t, who had stood in the background, ^to 
come forward and do likewise/ 

The effect of this unexpected request was almost magical, 
and instantly every eye was turned to Bin6t, who, taken off 
his guard, turned pale, and stammered out a request to be 

^ Monsieur Bin^t,' said the counsel, in solemn and im- 
pressive tones, * here, in the presence of the dead, I charge 
you with being the murderer of Colonel de la Motte.* 

* It is false ! It's false ! It's a diabolical charge ! ' 
cried Bin6t, in great agitation, and trembling in every limb. 

* Thou art the murderer,' exclaimed the counsel, who, 
seizing Bin6t by the wrist, dragged him forward. 

^ The dead judges you and God witnesseth,' he said with 
awful solenmity. 

With a cry of horror Bin6t shrank away, and fell fainting 
to the floor. In this supreme and awful moment his courage 
and self-possession played him false, his guilt was revealed, 
and he was at once placed under arrest. 

Two days later, under the influence of unbearable 
remorse, he unburdened his soul and confessed that he had 
killed his uncle with carbonic acid gas. He had written the 
letter to his rival, and had cleverly imitated his cousin's 
handwriting. He had stolen away from the party whither 
he had gone with Marguerite, and committed the crime 
while Milner was in the house. Then he had left silently 
and cautiously and returned to the festivities, and he believed 
that the whole plot had been arranged so skilfully that there 
was not a single flaw to betray him. If he had succeeded 
in &stening the guilt on his rival he would have been able 
to have persuaded his cousin to marry him, and thus he 
would have got the fortune he craved for, for impecuniosity 
and importunate duns had made him desperate. 

After this confession Milner was instantly set free, but 
the excitement and the shock had so told upon him that he 


was seized with a dangerous illness, through which 
Marguerite nursed him with an infinite love and a tender- 
ness passing words, and six months later, when he was con- 
valescent, she became his wife. 

Bin6t was duly put upon his trial and was found guilty, 
though with extenuating circumstances, and he was in con- 
sequence sentenced to penal servitude for life, a sentence 
from which he might have escaped altogether had he not 
been judged by the dead. 












[SEPT. 1898.] 


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It Scorpion : A RamRnpfl of Siwin. 


***""'^y"cy WARMAN. 


By C. J. WILL3. 

B EuT-nlnff F*ll«r. 

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run. I IfunlL 

|A CHAtTO A WtNblJS. l>uMUhef«, ttl At. M«rtin*s Lane. London, W.Ci 

Two-Srilliho NoTBL»-<on/fiii«^. 


VmeU Mtm at RoMt. 



Vha Martyrdoa of 1K»- 

Th* Ktw AlMlard. 
Tht R«lr «f LlaiiA. 
Womaa and tkt M»a. 
BMh«i Dfftt. I KftM. 
lAdy KUpAtritfk. 

and MURRAY. 

Bk»d»w of tht SWOK^ 
A Child of Mfttvo. 
•od UMt th« MMi. 

lOTO Ht for Svtr. 
Foxfflovo Uaaor. 
tboVMtor of thoMlB*. 
Aamaa W4t«r. 


n* CMrUtaa. 


ThtthadowofAOrliikO. I Tbo Oociiutor. 
▲ iOB of B&gar. 1 

By Commander CAMERON. 

VIm Cnako of the 'Bt»c^ rriac*.' 


Bit AdvoatorM of Joaef. 


For the Lovo of a Lan. 


Fanl rerrell. 

Wky Paul ForroU KiUod hia Wlfo. 


At euro of Boala. | Tbo Xod ftaltaa. 


Tht Bar Binlitor. 


Swoot Ann* Pago. 
Fiom Mldnicht to ICld- 

A Fight with Fortime. 


Armadalo. ( AftorDark, 
Ho Namo. 

Bwoot and Twenty. 
Tho yuiago Comedy. 
Ton Play me False. 
BUoUauth and Scholar 



My MiiceUanies. 
The Womaa ia Whlto. 
The If ooasto&o. 
Man aoA Wife. 
Poor Mlai Fuch. 
The FaUea Loavoa. 
Jeaebol's Daaf hter. 
The Slack Eoho. 
Heart aad Bcieaoa. 
The Evil Qoaiaa. 
Uttle Noirela. 
Leeacy of Cala. 
Blind Xove. 

Bide aad Book. 
The Dead Boerot. 

aooa of Koarto. 
nia New Magdalea. 
The Ftosea Deep. 
Tho Law and the Ladj 
Tho Two Doitlidei, 
Tho Haunted HoteL 
A Boigno'i Life. 

Bvoty Xnfih a Boldier. 

1,00. i Pant Foster's Banghtor. 


The Prophet of the Qreat Sntoky Monataiaa. 

The AdToatoros of a Fair RebeL 


Village Tales aad Jonclo 

Two Slasters. 

ICr. Jervls. 

The Real Lady Hilda. 

Karried or Single t 


Pretty MisSvNeville. 

Diana Barrlngtoa. 

•To Let.' 

A Bird of Faisaca. 

Proper Pride. 

A Family Ukeneai. 

By W. 

Hoarts of Oold. 


Tho KraagtUst ; or. Port Salvation. 


no Fonatala af Tontk. 



•w U^ fit^ I €^'g IftoHh 

_ By DICK 

Tho Kaa-Hvntor. 

Tracked aad Takia. 



Who Foiaonod Httty 

ICaik frttm Xaaehostor. 
A Dotoettvo's Trtnniphs 
Tho Kystory of Jamaica Tenaca. 
Tho OhaaBloleo af **<'»»'**' Dajtsvlteh. 


A Foiat of Hoaonr. | Archie Lovell. 


FoUola. j Kitty. 



Ja tha Qrip of tha Lavf. 
From Tnfopnatioia &•> 

TIacfcad to Dooak. 
Banicko Aroaaod. 
Ban ueeda. 



The Hew lustre 
Witaooi to tho Deed. 

I The Tlfer LllT. 
I Tho WMte Virgla. 


Bella Doana. 
Never Forgottoa. 
Fatal Zero. 


Second Mrs. TlUotson. 
Bovoaty • flv« Brooke 

Tho Lady of Braatomo. 

By P. PITZQBRALD imd others. 

Btrasf Secrets. 


Filthy Lucre. 


Dae by Oae. 
A Beal Qneen. 
Qaoen Cophetna. 


Xiag or Knave? 
Homa&ces of the Law. 
B<mes-of jlaad. 
A iMg aad hia Shadow. 


Both's Brothor'i Wifo. I Tho Lawtoa Oirl. 

Prefaced by Sir BARTLB FRERB. 

Faadaranc fiarL 

Tho Oapol aitls. 


A Strange icanoscrtpt. 


Robia Gray. 
Fancy Free, 
For Lack of Gold. 
What wiU World BayT 
In Lovo and War. 
For the Sing, 
la Baatnres Oreoa. 
Queen of the ICeadow. 
A Heart's KrobloaL 
ffho Doad Hoart. 


In-Hononr Bound. 
Flower of the Foresl 
Tha Braos of Yarrow. 
The Golden Shaft. 
Of RlKh Degree. 
By ICaad aad Btreaia. 
Loviag a Oreaoa. 
A Hard "Knot. 
HOarfs Delight. 


Dr. Aastin'a Gaosto. | The Wiaard of tho 
James Duke. i IConntaia. 


The Lost Heiress. I Tho FossfadtAr. 

A Fair Colonist. | 


Bod Spider. | £ve. 


A Hoblo woman. | Nikanor. 


Ooilathla M ararioa, 

Tho Says of Kit Vaatjfy. 

sHas . ^ - - - 

i^you. I Ootafxy Luck. 

iTonT'day Pa^sn. 

» wffawtod ArMi 

CHATTO & WINDUS, PubHshef5, in 5t. Martin's Lane. London, W.C. 31 

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OaviamfeadBztor'f IN*- 

Ti^e Spectra of the 

, .^Z ^*«' ARTHUR HELPS. 

Ivan de Kron. 

o I K*». ,^3:0. A. HENTY. 

Rnjub the Juggler. 

* T ., ®y HENRY HBkMAN. 

A Leading Lady. 

, K *..^^."FAI>ON HtLL. 

Zambra the Detecfive. 

^ , By JOHN HILL. 

TreaeoB Felony. 


The LoTer'ff Creed. 

The Three Oraeee. 
Vnsatiifactory LoTer. 
Lady Patty. 
Nora Creina. 
The Profeuor'f Zxp•r^ 

A ICaSden all Forloni. 

la Durance YUe. 


A Mental Struggla. 

A Mbdem Olree. 

Lady Tomer's flight. 

The &ed Honse ICysteory 

1. .By^Mr*- ALFRED HUNT. 

Thornlcroft's ModeL | Self-Oondemned. 
That Other Person. \ The Leaden Caaktt, 

K, Dead B^J ^^ JAMESON. 

•K.« 1.J??: HARRIETT JAY. 

The Dark CoUeen. | Qaeen of C<maa«ghi 

« , I , |Jy MARK KERSHAW. 

Colonial Facts and Fictions. 


A Drawn Same. 

'The Wearing of the 


Pa8sloi>'8 Slava. 
Bell Barry. 


Madame Sans Qene. *-*-•-■- *»i^- 

-TK r. A ^y -"^"N LEYS. 

The Lindsays. 


Patricia ZemihaU. 

The World Well Lost. 

Under which Lord? 

Paston Carew. 

• My Love t ' 


With a Silken Thread. 

r..^ .Py HENRY W. LUCY. 

Gideon Fleyce. 

By JUSTIN McCarthy. 

The Atonement of Leam 

Sobel of .the Family. 
Sowlhff the Wind. 
The One Too Many. 

Dear Lady Disdain. 

My Enemy'*' Danghter! ^The Comet of 
AFair8axoj. The Dictator, 

Lintey Boohford. 

Donna <taixote. 
,Msid«f Athens. 


Bed Diam<mds. 
The Kiddle BlBg: 



Mr. Stranger's Sealed Packet. 

Heath?r^«?dl?o5.^^ MACDONALD. 
Quaker^^nSS'^'S^ MACDONELL. 

ThefcvllEre. 1 Loft.Bose. ^ *^^ 


A Ronuiee of the Nine- 1 The New BepnhUa, 
lieenth Century. ] *«i»»i«i* 

» ,/ .. Py^*'- MASTERMAN. 

Half-a-dozen Dattg^iters. 


A Secret of the Sea. 

. - ,... .5y.L. T. MEADE. 

A Soldier of Fortnne: 


The Man who wa« Ck>od. 


Touch and Go. } Mr. DorlUiou. 

- .V Bv Mr5. MOLES WORTH. 

Hathercourt Bectory. 

»..«,?? **• J* MUm)OCK. 

StorfesWeirdand WiA* From the Bosom of the 

derful. Deep. 

The Dead ICaifi Secret. 


A Bit Of HnmanJTatnre. 
First PersctB Slnnlar. 
Boh Martin's UttleOirl. 
Time's Bevenges. 
A Wasted Crime. 
In-I^lrest PerlL 
Mount Despair. 
A CapfiU o' Kaila. 

A Model Father. 
Joseph'a Coat. 
Coa's.of Fire. 
Val Strangeijflearti. 
Old Blazer's Hero. 
The Way of the World. 
Cynic Pbrtune. 
. A Life's Atonement. 
By the Gate, of the Sea. 


One Traveller Betums. | The Bishops' Bible. 
Paul Jones's Alias. [ 


A Game of Bluff. | A Song of Sixpence. 

.. .,« ..^y HUME NISBET. 

• BaU TTp I • I Dr.Bernard St.Tincent. 

4.. ^y W* E.' NORRIS. 

Saint Ann's. 


The Unforeseen. [' Chance 7 or Fate t 


Dr. Bameau. I A Weird Gift. 

A Last Love. | 

«n.«* , ..I ^y ^"- OLfPHANT. 
?K?rr1SeFath. T ^n??;;^ "•^" *» 


Held in Bondage. 




Under Two Flags. 

Cecil Castlemalne'sGage 



FoUe Farlne. 




Princess Haprazlno. 

In a Winter dty. 






riilage CommuM. 
In Maremma. 

SanU Barbara. 
Two Offenders. 
Onida's Wisdom, 
acd Pathoa 



GenUe and Simple. «-«wi-« 

«. «r_^ By EDQAR A. POE. 

The Mystery of Marie Boget. 


The Bomance of a Station. 

The Soul of Countess Adrian. 

Outlaw and Lawmaker. 

Christina Chard. | Mrs. Tregaiklsa 

tr.1 «« ^y ^ ^ PRICEV^ 

Valentina. 1 Mrtf. Lancaster sXivaL 

The Forelgaan. • J Gerald ■«▼«• 


Miss Maxwell's Affeetions. 




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By 1. ZANdWILL. 

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